Latin America: Building Successful Media Businesses
ICFJ Knight Fellow Janine Warner is supporting the sustainability of Spanish-language digital news startups across Latin America, Spain and the U.S to promote a greater diversity of online news. She is doing this through SembraMedia, a nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2015 with Mijal Iastrebner of Argentina. Their mission is to help digital media entrepreneurs to learn business and technical skills, and draw on the expertise of others who are facing similar challenges.
Throughout Latin America, digital media startups are harnessing the power of the internet to launch new and innovative independent media projects. They provide coverage that often doesn’t make it into larger, traditional media because of political and corporate influence. Despite some inspiring success stories, however, many entrepreneurial journalists are struggling to develop sustainable business models to keep their news independent.
Working with a team of journalists at SembraMedia, Warner has helped to spark a new wave of news entrepreneurship across Latin America, and provided training and other support to thousands of journalists and digital media entrepreneurs in the U.S., Latin America and Europe.
Her ICFJ Knight Fellowship supports her work as Executive Director of SembraMedia, where she leads a network of change agents who provide business and technical training, market intelligence and networking opportunities to journalists and entrepreneurs. Together, they’ve triggered these impacts through a series of innovative projects:
Latin America’s first Spanish-language online school for digital media entrepreneurs. The school offers specialized courses that provide the first comprehensive business planning and management training in Spanish. With more than 25 courses, the school offers unprecedented access to low-cost training in management, marketing and revenue diversification. SembraMedia is also starting to work with universities to bring high-quality business training to journalism students throughout the region.
Inflection Point, the first major study of business models and market conditions faced by 100 digital news entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The report garnered a great deal of attention: at least 155 stories were written about it, including coverage by The Economist, as well as U.S.-based MediaShift and Business Insider.
Through her training and mentorship, Warner has helped many journalists develop new media projects. They include ContraCorriente, a news site dedicated to covering human rights in Honduras, as well as Efecto Cocuyo, an award-winning independent voice dedicated to covering investigative news in Venezuela.
After more than two years of research, SembraMedia has mapped the digital media market and created a directory of Spanish-language digital media startups in Latin America, Spain and the U.S. Hispanic market. The directory makes it easy to search through more than 750 digital native media by size, country, and type of news coverage, among other criteria. The directory is the foundation of SembraMedia’s growing network of digital-native news organizations in the region that are cutting-edge and independent. As a Fellow, Warner is working to expand the directory and help journalism entrepreneurs develop partnerships with each other, and join forces to negotiate better deals on products and services.
Training events for digital entrepreneurs and journalists in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Ecuador, México, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Major partners for these events have included Google News Initiative and Gabriel García Márquez Foundation (FNPI).
Warner is a pioneer in digital media, online learning, and entrepreneurial journalism, and an experienced bilingual reporter and editor. Before her ICFJ Knight Fellowship, she served as Director of New Media at The Miami Herald and Director of Latin American Operations for CNET Networks.
Warner ran her own consulting and training firm for more than a decade, and has written and co-authored more than 25 books, including “Web Sites For Dummies.”
She has taught courses at the University of Miami and the University of Southern California as an adjunct professor. She’s also been a guest lecturer at more than 30 universities in the U.S., Latin America and Europe, and she has taught three Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on entrepreneurial journalism in Spanish for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas.
Janine is a native English speaker, fluent in Spanish and conversational in Portuguese.