newmediadev2009




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PROJECT OVERVIEW




This wiki is the product of a team of graduate students at Columbia University that is conducting research for Animal Politico, a forthcoming political news web site in Mexico. This team of students, based in Professor Anne Nelson’s New Media and Development Communications class, was contacted in Autumn 2009 by Animal Politico and asked to gather information about the opportunities and challenges facing such a project in Mexico (a country where media is dominated by a powerful duopoly), against the backdrop of a developing media market and dramatic changes in the world of journalism.



PROJECT MISSION


Political news Web sites in the United States such as Politico.com and TPM Café have changed the way that political journalism is conducted here. The objective of our research is to help Animal Politico understand the opportunities and challenges available in this new journalistic setting and to consider what specific issues may arise for a political news Web site in Mexico. After initial discussions with the management of Animal Politico, our research was divided into three key areas: the impact of new media on political journalism, a comparative analysis of news Web sites in Mexico and the United States, and the uses of social media for promoting Animal Politico's content. This wiki presents our research on these main issues as well as sub-themes that arose over the course of our research. Links to online resources we used are also included.



THE ANIMAL POLITICO RESEARCH UNIT


The team members from the New Media and Development Communications class working on this project are:

1. Jodi Coplan [jec2191@columbia.edu]
2. Pablo Espinel [pabloespinel@gmail.com]
3. Stine Klapper [sk3310@columbia.edu]
4. Matt Moore [msm2173@columbia.edu]
5. Mariana Barrera Pieck [mb3114@columbia.edu]
6. Zhong Yi Yeo [zy2135@columbia.com]




ANIMAL POLITICO


Animal Politico is slated to have a ‘soft’ launch in Mexico during the first week of January 2010. The purpose of the website will be to cover the activities and behind-the-scenes happenings of the Mexican government, the Congress,and Los Pinos (the presidential residence). According to one of its founders, Daniel Eilemberg, Animal Politico wants to be the place where political junkies in Mexico go for news, where people interested in knowing what is happening in the political scene in real time are able to get this information, and where investigative stories that may have never been told are able to be aired. "People are going to be able to rate the congressmen, to know who voted for or against which law. People are going to interact by posting comments and joining the debate, they will raise issues and we are going to follow up on those issues," said Eilemberg.



Animal Politico in Mexico

The creators of Animal Politico have extensive experience in the Mexican media market, having launched a successful first venture, a print magazine, in Mexico. They note that Mexico is the most mature media market in Latin America, thus making it the most viable market for this type of project. With the Mexican presidential election coming up in three years, there is also a great opportunity to tap into the online political journalism arena, making the website a credible source for political news in Mexico that an interested audience can turn to.

Due to the duopolistic media market in Mexico, Animal Politico's creators also believe that the Mexican political audience will appreciate the angle that is provided by an objective, independent media. With Animal Politico covering the news from a different and more independent angle, it is felt that the website will compete with the major players who have so far had a tight reign on the news industry in Mexico.



Proposed Web Layout for Animal Politico


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Proposed Web Layout for Animal Politico (Source: Animal Politico)



KEY AREAS OF PROJECT RESEARCH


1. The Politico.com Model: Recent Changes in Political Journalism
2. Online Political Journalism: The United States vs. Mexico
3. Animal Politico's Social Media Strategy


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The Politico.com Model: Recent Changes in Political Journalism


The fate of journalism and the rise of new media is a topic widely remarked on in both the academic and popular literature about news. This section will introduce the subject of how political journalism has changed in recent years by looking at the "Politico.com model." Politico.com, along with Web sites like the Huffington Post, TPM Cafe, and the Drudge Report, represents a new approach to political journalism. As traditional models of newspaper and print journalism are undermined by economic and technological change, Politico.com has attracted attention for it's pioneering of online political reporting and its ability to attract a committed audience of readers while other news outlets struggle. Politico.com and the other "top-tier" political news Web sites therefore are an instructive example for those interested in the future of journalism or who would seek to duplicate the model in other media markets. This type of political journalism is also very new and the potential pitfalls and challenges have not been fully explored. This section, while hopeful about the potential for Poltico.com-style Web sites to provide a new means for high quality political journalism to thrive, will also attempt to suggest some of the challenges the model is likely to encounter.




Online Political Journalism: The United States vs. Mexico


The political climate in America shifted dramatically during the 2008 presidential election. Then candidate Barack Obama was able to use new media tools to mobilize the public in ways no one running for office has done before. This phenomena highlighted the fact that changes in the relationship between politics and media are being forged in the United States. Politics is happening online in the United States more than in any other country and certainly more than in Mexico. In addition to technological advances and general issues of accessibility, U.S. politicians have conquered the internet. While Mexico's political climate is very different from that of the United States, we believe that there are ways to effectively reach out to the public and to implement change in the political culture. The lack of competition in the media, particularly in broadcast television, has been a persistent obstacle to the construction of a more free press in Mexico. As in other countries in Latin America, private entrepreneurs who receive subsidies and concessions from the government in exchange for favorable coverage have dominated Mexican television and several radio stations for many years.

Duing the early 1970s, the country's leading broadcasters combined their holdings to create a greater enterprise known as Televisa, which operated as a private, profit-oriented media business but also helped the dictatorial priísta regime through positive coverage that, in other countries, a state-controlled media would provide. Since then, despite the fact that the long-time dominant political party--the PRI--was defeated almost a decade ago, Mexico´s media ownership remains concentrated between Televisa and Television Azteca. Given this particular scenario, an online independent publication could help to raise awareness about sensitive issues by creating more diverse and democratic content on the one hand, and by offering a forum for debate and criticism on the other.




Animal Politico's Social Media Strategy


The importance of social media for journalism on the Web cannot be overstated. It has revolutionized the way people communicate, giving internet users the opportunity to access the different points of view of their peers, rather than listening only to the voice and advertising of the proprietor of particular Web sites. Viral tools, leveraging the excitement of users within social networks, have also become a useful way for firms to spread news and contribute to the popularity of their products. However, the effectiveness of such social media tools is only useful if there are sufficient users and a broad enough internet base in the country within which a media organization operates.

Thus, in examining the usefulness of pursuing an active social media strategy for Animal Politico, it is first important to consider the penetration rate of the internet in Mexico. With the ability of mobile phones to receive data, be it for short messages or internet data, these mini-computers have also slowly broken into the tollbox that people utilize to obtain online content. The potential tio use mobile phones for social media-purposes is extremely high, and thus the penetration rate of mobile phones in Mexico is also very pertinent for Animal Politico's strategy.




SUPPLEMENTARY RESOURCE


The supplementary page to this Wiki includes the following resources:

  • Selection of proposed logos for Animal Politico



TEAM RESOURCES





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