Media Factory: Building a network of mentors to accelerate the creation of sustainable news organizations

by Mariano Blejman
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

To create and accelerate new media at a time of historic economic growth across Latin America, I am launching Media Factory. It will be a place in Buenos Aires where teams from different countries can come for four months to start their own media outlets and products from scratch. The goal: to help them generate audiences and business models that promote the creation and sustainable growth of online news and information.

Media Factory, part of my ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship, will invest venture capital of about US$75,000 per company. We're accepting applications from Spanish-speaking media entrepreneurs from across Latin America.

In the first round of the project, we will select five teams to work on creating an audience, building a user base and accumulating knowledge about their market. Projects that demonstrate user engagement and traffic will gain access to a second round of investment.

In addition to investment, we thought about what other value we could add to these media startups. We asked ourselves, why would someone be willing to leave his or her city to go to Buenos Aires to create a new media organization?

The answer: We’re offering a network of mentors who want to share their knowledge, are keen to experiment and have a track record of success. To form the network, we’re bringing together a combination of international experts and local market specialists with expertise in creating news media organizations. They will cover all aspects of journalism workflow. And while they may be experts in very different areas, they all have one thing in common: an obsession with sustainability, traffic, quality content and the importance of independent media in building democracies.

Among the dozen mentors chosen so far are Syed Karim of the Media Development Investment Fund; Sasa Vucinic of the soon-to-launch crowdfunding platform, and James Breiner, an expert in online journalism and digital entrepreneurship, and a former ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow.

We also have Christopher Altcheck, CEO of, a news media outlet designed for digital natives; and Jim Frederick, contributing Editor of TIME Magazine at Time Inc.

To organize the workflow, we have David Brewer, a media consultant who is working on the development of the Superdesk concept, and has had extensive experience with Al Jazeera and the BBC. Miranda Mulligan, who is director of the Knight Media Lab Northwestern University, will provide a global vision for innovation.

And since metrics are a central feature of journalistic workflow, we will use services such as Umbel, the secret weapon of Hyginus O. Maycotte for big data analysis focusing on what users consume. Maycotte is also on the Media Factory's roster of mentors. In the local market Matías Attwell, director of strategy and business development at Terra platforms, will provide a regional vision; and Daniel Eilemberg of Animal Político, is a key example of why Media Factory makes sense. His media outlet in México grew up very quickly from a Twitter account to a dominant digital media outlet.

Potential investors such as Lisandro Bril, manager partner for Ax Venture, is a key investor who is ready to participate in this initiative. On the marketing side, Media Factory startups will have help from Trei Brundrett from Vox Media (The Verge) - his sites are hovering around 40 million unique visitors every month - and Madhav Chinnapa, director of strategic partnerships for Google News & Magazines. On top of this, Media Factory is becoming part of a network of 200 mentors from the tech world of NXTP Labs.

If you’re a Latin American media entrepreneur who is ready to change the way people are informed, apply now to get started at the Media Factory.

Knight International Journalism Fellow Mariano Blejman is an editor and media entrepreneur specializing in data-driven journalism.

This post was translated from Spanish to English by Andrea Arzaba.

Global media innovation content related to the projects and partners of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellows on IJNet is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and edited by Jennifer Dorroh.

Image of Miranda Mulligan CC-licensed on Flickr via Mirka23.