Now that they've reached the largest social media audience in Mexico, the next step for the popular news site Animal Político is to diversify their sources of revenue and completely avoid the publicity purchased by the Mexican government, the most important advertiser for news outlets covering politics and general information in the country.
“Financial independence is the only way to obtain editorial independence," said Daniel Eilemberg, president and founder of the site, during thel Sixth Ibero-American Colloquium on Online Journalism. The event was organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas on April 20 and 21 in Austin, Texas.
To reach that goal, Animal Político opened a new business branch focused in offering social media and digital content consulting to private companies, a practice known as "brand journalism."
"There is a growing number of companies that are looking to create their own media outlets, like Coca Cola TV or Red Bull, and we can help them create successful media," he said. In an interview with the Knight Center, Eilemberg said he was a few steps away from signing the first agreements to offer consulting and content to private companies. Other sources of revenue for Animal Político are event organizing, syndicated content and private sector sponsorships.
Animal Político was born in November 2009 under the name Pájaro Político, a Twitter account that aimed to share political news in real time with a younger audience. Twelve months later, the account became one of the most visited sites in Mexico for people looking for social and political news.
“The day that we launched the website we reached 35,000 followers on Twitter," Eilemberg said. "It was a way to let people know about us in a sustainable way while we created a following."
Today, Animal Político has 442,000 followers on Facebook, more than any other news outlet in Mexico, including newspapers El Universal, Milenio, Reforma and radio program Aristegui Noticias. The site also has 350,000 followers on Twitter.
Eilemberg said that now they are contemplating expanding to the United States, from where they already receive 100,000 visits each month. "We're not ready but it's clear that it's an enormous opportunity to diversify our content and revenue," he said.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.