José J. Nieves

Pioneering sustainable journalism for exiled newsrooms

Cuban journalist José J. Nieves has been in exile since 2019, when he had to leave Cuba and settle in Miami, Florida. Among the many things he had to leave behind was a team of more than 20 people with whom he had built the independent media platform El Toque. Faced with growing risks, more colleagues left the country until El Toque became a fully transnational newsroom operating from 10 countries.

As an ICFJ Knight Fellow, Nieves will work to produce a sustainability playbook for exiled newsrooms on how to thrive while serving their home communities from outside the country. His experience managing media as a democratization tool in authoritarian regimes helps him connect and share experiences with colleagues facing similar challenges.

Nieves looks beyond immediate crisis management to think about implementing workflows, policies, and more robust revenue sources, so as to provide newsrooms with the longer-term view of sustaining their operations. During his ICFJ Knight Fellowship, Nieves (following research and strategies from organizations like LION Publishers) will produce resources to improve newsrooms’ sustainability, financial health, operational resilience and ultimately, their journalistic impact.

Nieves is El Toque's editor-in-chief and Mas Voces Foundation's executive director. He received the LASA Media Award in 2023 and is a Newmark J+ Social Impact Fellow 2023 at CUNY. He is a multimedia journalist and editor who has held senior management positions in commercial and nonprofit Cuban media since 2016.