Thursday, December 11, 2014

1.5 million page views a month for journalism of ideas

Angel Alayon, photo by James Breiner
Versión en español.

Angel Alayon is an economist in one of the craziest economies in the world, Venezuela, where inflation is more than 100 percent annually. It is awash in petroleum yet has chronic shortages of milk.

And he is a journalist in a country whose government has been censoring enemies by buying them up and turning them into pro-government mouthpieces or cutting their supplies of newsprint.

Add to that, only 41 percent of the population are Internet users. So he is used to challenges. Maybe that is why he has been undaunted about creating a website with the unsexy concept of journalism of ideas,  ProDaVinci.

With a full-time staff of only three, ProDaVinci has monthly traffic averaging 1.5 million page views to articles about economics, art, literature, science, and technology.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Freedom of the press for those who own one (or a search engine or a social network)

A renowned media critic sounded the alarm in 1960 about corporate takeovers of newspapers and layoffs of hundreds of journalists. He worried that the power of the press was being concentrated in too few hands.

Liebling, from

It was in his column in the New Yorker, The Wayward Press, that A.J. Liebling tossed off one of his most memorable lines in a parenthetical aside:
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one" (New Yorker, May 14, 1960, p. 109, paywall). 

What is still true today is that corporate owners of newspapers are focused on maintaining their profit margins and are laying off journalists to do so. The newspaper and magazine industries have lost 54,000 journalism jobs since 2003.

But it is no longer true that newspapers monopolize production and distribution of news. The Internet has given everyone with a computer and Internet access their own printing press. You do not have to be a mogul to publish your opinions. The big question is can you get anyone to listen.