Marking one year of environmental news reporting in Latin America
Jun02

Marking one year of environmental news reporting in Latin America

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the official launch of Mongabay-Latam, our Spanish-language environmental news service for Latin America. Mongabay-Latam is off to a great start, exceeding all our internal goals for its first twelve months. To date, the team — 6 full-time staff in Peru and 35 corespondents in 11 countries — has produced more than 600 original articles, including a number of major features on topics ranging from oil spills in the Amazon to wildlife trafficking in Colombia and Peru to the use of cattle ranches to launder drug money in Central America. The reporting has also won critical acclaim: in November 2016 two of Mongabay-Latam’s stories were selected among the five finalists of 122 nominees for the National Journalism Award, Peru’s equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. Mongabay-Latam’s reporting is getting wide readership. In the past year we’ve had 1.33 million visits to the site and added more than 40,000 fans on our Facebook page, which has an average weekly reach of 700,000. Importantly we’re also reaching audiences beyond our site via syndication partnerships with 15 media outlets in nine countries, including last month’s alliance with Publimetro, which plans to distribute our content in the nine newspapers it has in the region. Protecting ecosystems across Latin America is critical. The region boasts the world’s highest levels of biodiversity and most extensive tropical forests. It’s also a hotspot for new ideas and innovations in conservation, including forest monitoring systems, recognition of indigenous and traditional land tenure, and adoption of technology. We’re proud to be helping raise environmental awareness and create enabling conditions for NGOs and scientists. Special thanks to our supporters as well as our Latam team: Alexa Vélez Zuazo, Joaquin Ortiz Rivarola, Lorena Flores Agüero, MariaIsabel Torres, Milton López Tarabochia, and Romina Castagnino. Header photo: sea lion in the Galapagos. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for...

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5 years of environmental journalism in Indonesia
May26

5 years of environmental journalism in Indonesia

Last week Mongabay-Indonesia—our Indonesian-language environmental news service—celebrated its fifth anniversary with an event held at @America in Jakarta. The following traces Mongabay-Indonesia’s evolution from a concept to a popular web site whose influence extends well beyond Indonesia. Five and a half years ago, Mongabay was a two-person organization. While our site was well-respected and widely-read in the conservation community, we had big ideas that could never be realized under our advertising-based business model of the time. One of those ideas was to build an Indonesian environmental news service. Why Indonesia? Firstly, it has a huge amount of biodiversity living among its many ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to rainforests, much is which is threatened by unsustainable harvesting and habitat conversion, degradation, and destruction. It also has a huge human population which lacked reliable access to environmental news. In the early 2010s, Indonesia looked to be at a potential inflection point where it could shift from a deforestation-driven development model that laid waste to its biological and cultural diversity to something greener, perhaps following the path pioneered by Brazil, which had recently curbed deforestation in the Amazon while still expanding agricultural output. There was high-level political support from then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a billion dollar commitment from Norway to fund efforts to reduce deforestation, and new pledges from several companies to reduce or eliminate deforestation from their palm oil supply chains. Given that one of the major obstacles to progress in Indonesia was corruption in the natural resources sector, an environmental news service that increased transparency and accountability around forests might actually make a significant contribution toward shifting business-as-usual practices. Environmental journalism seemed to offer the potential to help create an enabling environment for others—advocacy groups, researchers, progressive companies, communities, and the bureaucracies—working on forests and related issues in Indonesia. So with the intent of building such a service, in 2012 I formed a non-profit: Mongabay.org. Its first project was Mongabay-Indonesia: an Indonesian-language environmental news service, for Indonesians and by Indonesians. After securing our first organizational grant, I posted three job descriptions in English and Indonesian. The response was overwhelming: more than 200 applications came in just three weeks. Two weeks later, we hired the team, which was led by Ridzki Sigit, our program manager. I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t speak in Indonesian and most of my time in the country had been spent in remote forests, not cities. But I put my faith in my small team and was rewarded with remarkable success. Within three months of hiring the team, Mongabay-Indonesia was arguably the most popular web site dedicated to environmental issues in Indonesia....

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