A year after PortableJournalism

Juan Pablo Meneses
5 min readMay 4, 2018
Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

One year ago exactly, I was living in Palo Alto, in a house in Hanover street and I was preparing my stand for the NewsFest in Stanford.

It was the presentation for the PortableJournalism project, a platform that I designed during the year I stayed in the JSK Journalism Fellowship. I wanted to present something simple and basic, something that would go back to our origins as a company. So I created a poster with many post-it-notes for the freelancers who wanted to receive more information about the project.

I thought that this way, it was possible to physically show a global need. In those spontaneous Post-It-notes were the freelancers who wanted to connect with each other. Also in those Post-it, was an industry that grows smaller every day in their newsrooms.

NewsFest, Stanford University. May 8, 2017

After I finished my year in Stanford, the NYU invited me to move to New York. I needed to analyze my experience on Silicon Valley by taking distance from it. As a “Visiting Scholar,” NYU gave me an office where I had the chance to work on a new project (I am now writing my eighth non- fictional book) and to continue developing PO-JO (PortableJournalism).

PO-JO is a concept project for Latin America and the United States in Spanish. New York was the perfect place to understand and connect with the world of the Latin American journalism. The region has an audience of around 60 million Spanish speakers. There, I was invited to present the project in the Latino Media Summit that organizes the Cuny Graduate School of Journalism, The City University of New York.

PortableJournalism will connect Freelance with Media and Audience

While I was in New York I came to know that PortableJournalism was one of the finalists of Start-Up Chile, the most successful accelerator start-up from Latin America that finances projects around the world. I was delighted with the idea of developing what I had designed in Silicon Valley for Latin America.

The Start-Up Chile program provided us with 35,000 seed capital. And being part of a global and diverse network of mentors and advisors.

PO-JO will allow us to localize, filter and connect freelancers around the world in a way even faster than Facebook, more specific than LinkedIn, safer than Google and more private than Twitter. It will be a combination of Medias, but on a much larger scale.

We started seeing results very fast. We launched a super simple MVP to recruit freelancers interested in the platform (a google form). We also opened subscriptions to the platform on April 1st of this year, with the intention to achieve 300 freelancers in the first month. But on May 1st we already had 1200 freelancers from 155 different cities!

It is known that today’s freelancers are very different to the ones that existed ten years ago. During my program in Stanford I organized the First Census for Spanish speakers Freelance Journalists. There I saw that a 70% of them are optimists who respect the future of journalism. One of the main reasons for this is that they know they do not want to go back to newsrooms.

PortableJournalism is a newsroom from the future. That is what I said on April 9th, when I travelled to give the closing talk in the 3rd Digital Journalism Congress in Dominican Republic in front of freelancers from the Caribbean region.

Ten days from now, I will be in Buenos Aires as one of the guests to the NewsGeist Latam, a meeting organized by GoogleNews. There I am going to speak with a bunch of people that I want to listen to and who I will learn from. Every day, the world of journalism without newsrooms draws nearer.

3rd Digital Journalism Congress in Dominican Republic

And this is not going to stop. Just three days ago, we opened a special announcement for freelancers who are going to travel to the 2018 Russian World Cup in an independent way. Soccer is very important in Latin America, and this tournament can be an excellent way to test our project.

In only three days we already have almost fifty freelancers assigned to all the different support (text, video, audio and photographs) and all the Russian cities where the Championship is going to take place. In only three days we already have more journalists and cities covered than any traditional Media in Latin America on the World Cup. This is the first freelance coverage on a World Cup and we already have Medias inscribed from Peru, Chile and Argentina to connect with the freelance there.

Twelve months of work have passed non-stop. This year we have developed alliances with the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), Universidad del Desarrollo (Chile) and with ETER School of Communications (Argentina). And for the first time with a global enterprise: Virgin Mobile.

One year ago exactly I was in my house in Palo Alto working on the Stand for the NewsFest. I thought that it was the end of a very challenging and fully worked year.

Now, with everything that has happened with PortableJournalism I think that it was only the beginning.

And it’s not bad!

jpmeneses@portablejournalism.com

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Juan Pablo Meneses

Founder of the “Universidad Portátil”, a project focused on the new LaTam narratives. JSK Stanford alumnus. MA, Communication and Education. Non-fiction writer.