Independent media companies transform Latin American publishing landscape

By Shelley Seale


Austin, TX, United States

The Inflection Point study is one of the most detailed studies done for new, independent media entrepreneurs in the digital spectrum.

Patricia Torres-Burd, vice president UBC International Consulting, Sembra Media, spoke at the INMA Conference de Medios Latinoamerica, sharing a few key findings from the study.

During the six months of the research, more than 100 media-related platforms in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico were studied. 

“The findings were quite surprising in some areas,” Torres-Burd said, “and in others, the things that we expected to find.”

Independent media companies are a vital and growing climate in the region: “There’s a lot of excitement happening; it’s a very important region in which the people of Latin America are very hungry for content. Not only in their language, but they’re also hungry for content that serves their communities.”

One of the surprising findings was that over 40% of the founders of the new digital media were women. “Which for us was incredible, not only in Latin America but in the world, women leading media projects has been a very small percentage,” Torres-Burd said. “It’s very exciting to see that in Latin America, they’re not only breaking barriers, but they’re breaking the glass ceiling in starting new media companies.”

As far as the most pressing challenges facing Latin American news companies today, Torres-Burd thinks they are facing the same general challenges that media organisations globally are dealing with — namely, retaining audiences that are being stolen away and going to other places.

“Credibility is a big factor that we’re all facing globally,” Torres-Burd said. “It’s a very big challenge to serve your audience, to keep it growing, to maintain your credibility, and to continue serving them in a very, very difficult economic climate.”

With so many new models being tried, such as paid subscriptions and memberships, the challenge is keeping up with all the diverse income sources that need to be applied to survive.

Torres-Burd recommends news media companies keep an eye on start-ups: “Start-ups are, for the most part, very young people who are looking at the world through very different eyes.” Because they are generally small, start-ups are agile. They can pivot easily and create changes, she said. “Most important, they can try things without the fear that a bigger brand would have to harm their brand. So they’re constantly experimenting, and by doing so, they’re finding new ways of reaching audiences, engaging, and connecting with them.”

About Shelley Seale

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