To stay independent, the scrappy Mexico City-based news website turns to crowdfunding
By CARLOS A. MORENO
Aristotle famously said, “Man is by nature a political animal.”
This phrase draws on debates of individualism versus collectivism, and at its core questions whether we’re all in this life together or, as many cynical non-active citizens like to believe, it’s every man for himself.
That is no longer the ethos of millennials in Mexico that hunger for unfiltered, unapologetic political and social news coverage. Enter Animal Politico, a Mexican independent news website that has captivated Aristotle’s saying with fury.
Headquartered in Mexico City, the website hopes to enter the U.S. political scene in the future. But its latest venture involves a crowdfunding campaign to support reporters on three continents: Africa, North America and Asia. With partner Round Earth Media, an organization focused on helping the next generation of online journalists, Animal Politico hopes to support reporters who cover underreported issues in Ghana, Jordan and Mexico.
Thus far the Kickstarter campaign has raised $4,400 toward a $27,500 goal. The campaign ends Nov. 2.
Sponsors like Round Earth Media are important to Animal Politico’s livelihood.
Animal Politico possesses a coveted young audience, and independence is vital to remain functional and relevant, said editor-in-chief and site founder Daniel Eilemberg.
To maintain its independence, the website looks to a range of revenue sources including consulting, content creation for companies like Coca Cola, event organizing, private sector sponsorship and syndication.
“Financial independence is the only way to obtain editorial independence,” Eilemberg said during the sixth annual Ibero-American Colloquium on Online Journalism, an event organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Animal Politico launched in 2010 to cover the activities and behind-the-scene happenings of several branches of the Mexican government including Los Pinos, the official residence and office of Mexico’s president. The website is geared toward “political junkies,” akin to Politico, the daily must-read for beltway politics in the United States.
Animal Politico’s humble beginnings started as an anonymous Twitter account called “Pajaro Politico,” or “Political Bird,” and quickly rose to become what it is now– a must-read news site among Mexican youth and political junkies. The website attracts more than 2.3 million visitors a month.
The site offers in-depth investigative reports, stories that aren’t being told by journalists anywhere else. It has a social media following larger than most traditional media in Mexico that often practices self-censorship, and which many young people view as biased propaganda machines hand-fed by government officials.
With Animal Politico, readers are actively commenting and getting news in real time on a wide variety of topics including mass protests taking place in Guerrero over the abduction and disappearance of 43 student teachers and a student-led rebellion against federal education reform measures.
In the future Eilemberg plans to expand Animal Politico into the United States, where it already receives more than 100,000 visits per month, he said.
If Animal Politico finds the right formula to keep itself independent and relevant, it just might help awake the sleeping giant of Mexico (as many sociologists of the country refer to millennials there who they view as largely politically and socially inactive).
To learn more about Animal Politico and its work see this presentation by its founder at the Paley Center for Media.
Carlos A. Moreno is the Latin American correspondent for throughthecracks.com, a blog about crowdfunding for journalism startups, where a slightly different version of this post first appeared. Cover art courtesy of Animal Politico.