Building social networks in Spanish in U.S.
By Ytaelena Lopez
Posted May 15, 2008 in the Maynard Institute' blog, in Spanish
(More links in the original article)
Recently, I attended the conference NewsTools2008, in Sunny Valley,
California. The central theme of the conference was the interaction between
journalism and technology, what they call there (in Silicon Valley) a
'mashup' concept. What is the goal? To revitalize the old job of making
To accomplish this we must understand that the citizen consume information
online. At least this is one of the proposal of Icities Congress, held in
Spain from 9 to May 11. Hispanics living in the United States United States
has been the first to join this trend, as discussed some time ago Pamela
Parker in ClickZ.
But apparently much of the journalists who write in Spanish does not have
realized the dimension of online as a public space, yet. I was able to
observe personally. I could 'twittering" NewsTools2008 in Spanish, thanks to
support from the people of Media Giraffe and the Maynard Institute. However,
it was a bucket of cold water to note that it was the only one.
How many of my readers have account in Twitter or at least know what I am
Many of my Spanish readers can refute me and place as an example
Reportwitters networks (in English) among many others. Okay, granted.
Changing the question then. How many of you, journalists living in the
United States and are able to work in Spanish, know what I am talking about?
We could define Twitter as a social network where microbloggers post their
notes in no more than 140 characters. The format allows for the possibility
of placing news and respond in real time from any cell or instant messaging
service, as well as enriched by the instant response of many interlocutors.
For me this is like "truly gonzo"journalism , unedited, as Hunter S.
Thompson dreamed it when he wrote his book 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'.
We can build a network of journalist and citizens that generate lively news
or link, as the endless conversations of @UCAMMediaLab or the hedges
'cloth-of-spider' of @Peridistas.
It is understandable that the Baby Boomers (people between 40 and 60 years)
will not find meaning to the act of opening an account at Twitter. They only
represent 19 percent of the content in social networks, according to
Business Week magazine. His legacy is found mainly in traditional media like
television, radio or print, currently in crisis. It was only in 1990 when
CERN in Geneva gave birth to WorldWideWeb (www) and the first Web server.
I recognize also that young people between 18 and 27 years, the so-called
Generation Y, have a natural advantage compared to others: grew up with
video games and learned to handle the Internet when they were children. For
this reason the future of New Media rightfully belongs to them: more than
half of them have an account on Facebook, Hi5 or any other social network.
More than a third generates content for themselves.
Perhaps a good example in English might be journalists @Digidave, @Kaliya or
@Kara. In Spanish I would not lose updates Luis Carlos Diaz, aka @
LuisCarlos, who just 23 years revamp the South American blogosphere and
participates in Congress of citizen journalism.
The problem is Generation X, immortalized in a book Douglas Coupland's book,
that it began playing marbles and ended with a Atari's control in hand. Of
this group of people whose ages range between 27 and 40 years, only third
'plays' in social networks, according to the same statistics of the magazine
Find out who was the only person who "twitter" in Spanish within the group
of lecturers in NewsTools made me feel really member of a minority. The live
coverage made on this important event was exploited by people from other
countries except the United States, with some exceptions. Some of my
colleagues who work in digital media in Spanish even asked me how to open an
account in Twitters. A a sponsor of the event, the @NAHJ (National
Association of Hispanic Journalists) just have one update on Twitter since
June 14, 2007.
I searched in Twitter and I could not find a single network devoted to
journalism in Spanish in United State as those that exist in Spain like
@Journalists in Latin America, @Tuitiar in Argentina, or @to2blog in
Venezuela. Much less a social network of citizens journalists' as @Bottup.
Unfortunately, as Jose Zamora (Knight Foundation) said, the digital gap
between Latin America and United States get bigger. The consequences become
obvious among Spanish-language media in United States. The 92 percent of
journalists working in them are foreigners and more than half are older than
30 years, according to the NAHJ. Who can think of technological toys where
poverty is part of context?
In the nineties, the laptops were a luxury reserved for the wealthiest
people in Venezuela. I still remember the smell of Tipp-Ex (correction
fluid) that I used in my my first note made-in-a typewriter for college. Now
things are very different, but still the Internet remains a luxury in rural
Ironically, poor countries like Cuba, Bolivia and Peru have done an exemplar
use of the news media to weave nets of citizen's journalism. The Cuban Yoani
Sanchez, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to
Time magazine and winner of the Ortega y Gasset Prize for his blog
"Generation Y" is a good example. There are also others such as the Peruvian
Marcos Sifuentes with his UteroTV, aka @ Uterotv for Twitter, or the
Bolivian Sebastian Molina inventor of MundoAlreves, aka @ Yopuej. There are
a lot of examples in the infair called "Third World".
Why not do something similar to them here in United States, where the income
per capita is higher and access to technology is much easier? Will Latinos
(or Hispanic) who likes to read in their own language does not deserve a
project with the quality of NLA / Citizen Journalism in Latin America?
I have some answers, but I prefer to leave it to the next column.
You can see my pictures on the event in Flickr .