Animal Politico is a political news website launching in Mexico in April 2010. The purpose of the website is to cover the activities and behind-the-scenes happenings of the Mexican government, the Congress, and Los Pinos (the presidential residence). Animal Politico is geared toward "political junkies" - where people 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. Yet, in addition, Animal Politico aims to generate greater awareness of the political process and capture a wider audience, including a younger generation that is becoming more political due to the deteriorating economic and security situation in Mexico, yet isn't engaged by any of the current media offerings.
This is an online independent publication working to help to raise awareness about sensitive issues. In using information and communication technology (ICT) as a platform for political journalism, Animal Politico is meant to create more diverse and democratic content, on the one hand, and to offer a forum for debate and criticism, on the other.
Animal Politico revolves around the use of social media to engage readers. People can rate members of congress, interact by posting comments and joining the debate, and raise issues that the journalists will follow up on. Animal Politico will be establishing a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn to generate a greater online presence. Online bookmarking services such as delicious will be employed to encourage users to bookmark certain pages. Animal Politico's strategy is to engage in the conversations with readers - be it scouring the internet for posts relating to Animal Politico and correcting any misinformation, and responding to comments that are left on the website or on Twitter. The idea is that an active social media presence is needed to respond to both negative and positive commentary online in a timely fashion.
Democracy and Governance.
Animal Politico has closely followed the rise of political online publications in the United States, such as Politico, The Huffington Post, Real Clear Politics, Drudge Report, online magazines like Daily Beast, and transparency watch-dogs like Open Secrets.org, the St. Petersburg Time's Truth-o-meter, and others. Animal Politico has studied what works in the US and why, as well as what is missing in much of the political coverage in Latin America. And they then incorporated "the best" ideas into a project combining news coverage, journalistic investigations, and opinion and analysis in one destination.
The creators of Animal Politico launched 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 3 years, there is also a great opportunity to tap into the online political journalism arena, hopefully making the website a credible source for political news in Mexico that an interested audience can turn to.
In Autumn 2009, Animal Politico contacted a team of graduate students based in Professor Anne Nelson's New Media and Development Communications class at Columbia University in New York, the United States (US), to request that they gather information about the opportunities and challenges facing such a project in Mexico, against the backdrop of a developing media market and dramatic changes in the world of journalism. Their research revealed, in part:
- Internet World Stats reports that eMarketer found that Mexico has a 24.8% penetration rate as of September 2009, indicating that there are over 27.6 million Internet users in the country. According to the ComScore State of Internet Report - Mexico, April 2009, Internet growth in Mexico is led by the youth, with 48% of all Internet users in the country between 15 and 24, compared with 35% in Latin America, and 26% worldwide.
- Mexico's mobile industry has been growing on average at 17% per annum, achieving more than 70% penetration by the end of 2008. With the ability of mobile phones to receive data, be it for short messages or internet data, the penetration rate of mobile phones in Mexico is also very pertinent for Animal Politico's strategy.
The researchers also point to the lack of competition in the media, particularly in broadcast television, as 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 favourable coverage have dominated Mexican television and several radio stations for many years.
New Media and Development Communication wiki, forwarded from Anne Nelson to The Communication Initiative on January 20 2010; and email from Daniel Eilemberg to The Communication Initiative on March 1 2010.