The second session of the 2017 Mobile Media Culture in the Americas workshop at Florida International University focused on Digital Divide and the News, specifically exploring some high-level strategies and perspectives. The moderator for session was FIU Associate Professor Mario Diament, and panelists included Selymar Colón, Alejandro González, Daniel Eilemberg, and Mario R. García.
The session explored the new avenues created for the media through recent technological innovations, and the new challenges encountered in gaining a larger audience.
Colón, Managing Editor and Senior Director, Digital at Univision Communications Inc. was the first panelist to speak. Among the topics that she discussed was the importance of being transparent with one’s audience, and the significance of credibility in news stories. Essentially, how to gain a reader’s trust, and have them read your article versus the dozens of others that cover the same topic.
In his presentation, González, the director for Development and Innovation at 14ymedio.com, described the low connectivity of the Internet on the island of Cuba, and the importance of 14ymedio, which allows thousands of viewers in Cuba to access news both nationally and globally. Additionally, he discussed the role that authenticity plays in journalism. He affirmed that the role that authenticity has in journalism is essential. One must have both “veracity and independence,” and write what we believe with an authentic voice.
Eilemberg, President and Chief Content Officer at Fusion, and founder of Animal Politico, elaborated on his founding of and work with the news site. Animal Politico is the most-read independent news site in Mexico, located in Mexico City. He discussed how today’s media industry is disrupted. He also emphasized that the value of a news site is its credibility: Fact-checking, creating investigative teams to check the validity of sources, and the value of the enterprise. He also discussed the new Podcast platform in Fusion.
Finally, García, CEO and Founder of Garcia Media and an Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, emphasized the importance of visual storytelling in a linear thinking format. He stated “Linear thinking, we’re not separating the art from the writing.” He indicated that millennials check their phone “over 114” times a day, and emphasized the importance of writing for the small platform before moving to the big.
García felt that the homepage in online news sites is dying due to readers going straight to links that take them directly to the article, versus the home website itself. He elaborated on the importance of wetting the appetite of the reader, and providing a story in two to three screens. He stated, “Stories need to be interactive. You must appeal to all the senses: brain, eyes, and finger. Text by itself is not going to hold attention of the current audience; you must hook the audience first with the bulleted or outline of the story’s information. Then, they will read the story.”
The final topics discussed originated as questions from the attending audience, dealing with the subject of fake news, and how the media could be trusted after releasing such news. All team members agreed that sources must be checked and thoroughly verified.
Another question concerned the dilemma of broadcasting misinformation in breaking news and its effect on the media organization.
González discussed his belief that credibility “is at the core of their organization.” He stated, “Those careless mistakes are a serious threat to our credibility, because we’re already facing an environment where our credibility is questioned by the government itself.”
González then outlined his organization’s goal in Cuba, “We want to instill inside of Cuba a new sense of doing journalism that’s independent and objective, and that goes beyond scratching the surface.”
García added, “Taking your time in this environment is key. The first news may contain the most false information, while the last will contain the most reliable, because people took the time to check their sources and facts.”
In this session, the panelists acted in a mentoring role to provide insight and innovative approaches to sharing information across Latin America and the Caribbean to connect to a more extensive audience.