By Gabriela Hadid

Growing financial independence to protect editorial independence

In the midst of these unprecedented times, digital news outlets are proving more essential than ever before. New research commissioned by Luminate and conducted by Provokers in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico found that 57% of readers of digital media have increased their consumption of digital news during the pandemic. Consumers are also willing to pay for content, with an average 13% of respondents paying for at least one digital news subscription on a monthly basis. While on the surface this may sound modest, willingness to pay for digital news amongst consumers in Latin America is higher than in some established markets such as the UK (8%) and Germany (10%) and is not far behind the US (20%)¹

Beyond learning how many people pay for digital news, we were keen to find out why people currently pay for a digital news subscription or service. Across the four counties surveyed, the top reasons were clear: an outlet’s ability to provide unlimited, high-quality content and its reputation for providing serious, credible, and reliable information. In addition, potential subscribers expressed that in their consideration to pay, it is key that media is unbiased and independent from the party in office.

Luminate believes that independent media play a crucial role in strong societies. We also believe that financial independence is essential to protect editorial independence. This study seeks to provide consumer insights that empower media outlets as they explore subscription or membership models. These findings build upon the Inflection Point report that we published with SembraMedia in 2017 which explored the state of digital media across Latin America and the launch of Velocidad in 2019, an accelerator program that provides funding and consulting for news startups operating in Latin America.

It’s heartening to see that demand for high-quality, independent news is increasing and that people are willing to pay for this content if reporting holds those in power to account.  Our democracies depend on independent media as a source of information people need to participate in the issues shaping their lives and to provide a check on institutions. This growing call for digital news is a win-win for the long-term future of high-quality journalism and for the health of democracies in Latin America.

Take a deep dive into the research in English and Spanish, and learn more about the findings in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

 ¹ Digital News Report, Reuters 2020

Watch Luminate's Gabriela Hadid and Felipe Estefan, Velocidad's Vanina Berghella, SembraMedia's Mijal Iastrebner, and ICFJ's Aldana Vales discuss the research in a recent webinar.