A study of the impact, innovation, threats, and sustainability of
digital media entrepreneurs in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa
Thanks to support from Luminate with additional support from CIMA
Inflection Point International represents the deepest and broadest research ever done into the state of digital native media in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. As with so many things in our not-quite-post-pandemic world, what we discovered was a mix of alarming threats and inspiring breakthroughs.
The digital news outlets in this study were built by determined media founders, willing to take on corrupt governments and violent international cartels despite limited resources. Too many of them risk their livelihoods—and in the worst cases, their lives.
But this report is not a cry for help or a desperate plea to bail out a group of media that are in trouble—not the least because many of the media founders we interviewed are reluctant to ask for help at all.
Our goal in the pages that follow is to shine a light on these increasingly important media players who are just starting to get the recognition that they deserve. Many of the digital native media in this study have produced stories that had significant real-world repercussions, from protecting endangered species, to championing gender equality, to forcing corrupt government officials to resign in disgrace.
We share our findings and recommendations because these media leaders deserve our help to keep them safe as they fight powerful forces, as well as financial support and training to build more resilient independent media organizations that serve their communities—and democracies—for years to come.
Digital media entrepreneurs are serving an increasingly important role in Latin America. Since the first venture in this study was launched in 1998, hundreds of digital natives have appeared in the region and grown to serve millions of readers.
This study is the first comprehensive examination of the impact these entrepreneurs are having, the risks they face, and whether a viable business model has emerged for quality, independent, digital journalism. To conduct this research, SembraMedia, with the support of Omidyar Network, commissioned a team to study 100 digital news startups, 25 each in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
Many of the researchers were entrepreneurial journalists themselves, and they brought personal connections and a deep understanding of the media in their countries. In 2-hour interviews with founders or directors, they asked more than 130 questions about management and innovation, challenges and opportunities, audience size and engagement, income and expenses.
This report is aimed at helping the founders of digital media startups better understand the trends, threats, and best practices that affect them. It is also designed to help investors, foundations, and journalism organizations to appreciate the value, vulnerability, and impact of this fast-growing media ecosystem. Although we cannot share their proprietary data, we’ve included our top-level findings in this report.