Plaza Pública offers Guatemala in-depth news free from political and economic pressures

In an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, editor Julie Lopez of Plaza Pública in Guatemala speaks about how the online, non-profit news site, aimed at providing an alternative perspective "not subject to political and economic pressures," got started, launching on Feb. 22, 2011. See below the video of her interview (in Spanish).

Although Plaza Pública is funded in part by the University Landivar, Lopez said the university does not intervene in the editorial workings of the online newspaper. Being located at the university allows Plaza Pública to work with and train journalism and political science students, the idea being that eventually those students will become part of the site's reporting staff, Lopez said.

Rather than a daily newspaper, Lopez said, Plaza Pública is more like a news magazine. It started with new stories once a week, with only the opinion columns and blogs updated daily. Now, however, Plaza Pública has progressed to being updated at least three times a week, she said.

The site specializes in themes related to security and politics, including human rights and issues like immigration, displaced peoples, and drug trafficking, Lopez said.

With elections taking place Oct. 6, the lack of advertising and Plaza Pública's non-profit status has meant an ability for the site to cover the candidates with more balance. Such a site is important for Guatemala, Lopez said, because it allows "the public to know perspectives that normally are not published in traditional media." The online format also allows for more in-depth coverage, providing readers with analysis that allows them to better understand issues, their context, and consequences.

For more information about Plaza Pública, see this interview with Martín Rodríguez Pellecer, founder and director of the publication. The profile of Plaza Pública is the first in a series by the Knight Center on independent, non-profit journalism projects in Latin America.