Researchers conduct first-ever census for freelance journalists working in Spanish

Researchers have started a project they hope will provide, for the first time, a more comprehensive view of freelance journalists working.

The survey, located at CensoFreelance.Org, is intended for freelance journalists working, writing and publishing in Spanish in Latin American, Spanish and U.S. Hispanic media. It is open for the month of March.

“So far there are no figures on how many freelance journalists there are in Latin America. That’s why participation is important,” said Juan Pablo Meneses, a JSK Fellow and freelance journalist from Chile. “The motto of the census is ‘To know where we want to go, we need to know where we are.’”

The survey, or census, is organized by Escuela de Periodismo Portátil (School of Portable Journalism) along with the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship and Stanford University.

The researchers consider “freelance journalists” to be “those who work 100 percent of the time as independents, contract journalists who write freelance work for other media, collaborators without contracts, those who once worked ­­­­­as freelancers, and students of journalism who are doing their first jobs as freelancers.”

The survey asks questions about motivations for being a freelance journalist, where your articles are published, what you write about, what kind of journalism you produce, your opinions on the future of freelance journalism, and more.

The researchers consulted with the Stanford University Department of Statistics and University IT to develop the census; the Social Science Data and Software at the University will analyze the results, according to a press release.

More than 30 volunteers from Latin America, Spain and the U.S. helped to develop the census.

“It’s necessary to put freelance journalism in the debate, in the conversation, in the talk about the future of journalism,” said Meneses, who cited the growing amount of freelance journalism around the world in a conversation with the Knight Center.

In 2009, Meneses founded the School of Portable Journalism, an online creative writing school with teachers from Latin America, Spain and the U.S. The school proposes “to discover, to connect and to show new voices of crónicas in Spanish,” according to its site. As JSK Fellow, Meneses' challenge is to discover how to “find and connect new journalism talent from an independent platform.”

People participating in the census can submit a CV or resumé along with the survey to be contacted by the School of Portable Journalism or Stanford University for future activities.

Meneses will present the results at the 10th Iberian American Colloquium on Digital Journalism in Austin, Texas on April 23.

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.