Brazilian independent journalism business models

This week we bring to you real-case scenarios of Brazilian independent journalism business models. During the New Ventures Lab, we started a discussion about different, innovative ways to make independent media sustainable. We brought to the table amazing examples in Brazil such as Brio, JOTA, Mamilos Podcast and Meio. These spectacular, cross-border, collaborative projects demonstrate how to surf the turbulent waves of entrepreneurship.

MAMILOS PODCAST – I’ll give you 20 hours of my time if you give me 1 hour.

Juliana Wallauer, a co-founder of Mamilos podcast

“We found out that we were not alone, that there were many people that wanted a podcast like that,” Juliana Wallauer, a co-founder of Mamilos podcast, said when she started her presentation. Every Friday, Juliana and Cris Bartis release a new episode of one of the most-listened-to podcasts in Brazil.

Mamilos is a podcast that searches social media for the most-debated or controversial topics such as abortion, non-monogamous relationships, nudity, suicide. The podcasts looks for different angles, different approaches and different opinions with empathy, respect, good humor and tolerance, deepening the way we think about the topic. Currently, the duo has an average of 50,000 listeners each week. Some programs have reached peaks of 63,000 views.

How have they made Mamilos sustainable since 2014? They found out that they were not alone, that many people were interested in a podcast like that.

Their income came first from advertising. Juliana’s concern was to make a better product, and reach more people. She used to work 10-hour days, even during holidays, to build advertising. At some point, this changed. Leading this double life got to be too difficult. After all, she couldn’t expect to live from publicity alone. So a few months ago, the Mamilos team started to think about money in a different way.

“As journalists, we are passionate about doing something that people love. We are not good at taking something that people love and making it into money. We know we are committed to do a good project. But once you are entrepreneur, you have to do everything alone – be  the commercial department, financial department and account director, all in one person”, Juliana said.

They worked on a plan to accept money from different places, knowing their audience wanted to provide support. That led to them create the first subscription and newsletter, which allowed them to develop things specially for their audience.

They also attracted brands that would stay with the project for a full season, organizations that wanted to be part of certain types of initiatives, such as woman-centric initiatives.

Their advice? Talk to people who appreciate your work because they are the ones who will make things happen. “We succeeded, and then everyone started to invite us to this kind of meeting where journalists get together to make new journalism and make it profitable,” Juliana said.

JOTA – If you don’t focus on your user, your income will be 0.

Patricia Gomes introducing JOTA

Patricia Gomes used to be a reporter and creative editor at EdSurge, where she wrote, edited and experimented with interactive journalism. Before joining EdSurge, she earned a Master’s degree in Media Strategy and Leadership at Northwestern University.

Then she started JOTA, a media outlet specializing in legal news. “We started to be more intentional about our products. We really know how to assess in an accurate way to make a better decision. It’s good to fail fast, but if you don’t do that as part of a process, you will make mistakes that you could avoid,” said Paty.

For Paty Gomez, the product manager at Jota, subscriptions also are an important part – maybe even half – of the sustainability equation. The other 50% is composed of services for companies.

“I think I’m optimistic about journalism. It is a great time to be a journalist right now in Brazil. For the first time, I think we can combine technology to make it easier, do something to learn more about our audience, about our product, about our performance, to make our journalism better,” Paty said.

BRIO – You need to know who you are

Breno Costa from BRIO

Breno Costa wishes he had learned earlier in his career that is not impossible to begin a startup. “Don’t think only about the money. You have to understand how you are going to make your people passionate about it,” said this Brazilian who found BRIO, a journalistic platform that allows journalists to produce original, financially-rewarding content in an autonomous, creative, critical and planned manner.

Before creating his own project, Breno spent six years working as a journalist at Folha de Sao Paulo, covering government, politics, the economy and the courts.

In operation for a little more than a year, BRIO already has journalists from 106 cities all over Brazil in its professional and student base. Today, BRIO maintains its own revenues. It has a 100% independent business model, but wants to grow and involve other brands that share the same values: creativity, critical thinking, planning and autonomy.

Not everything started so well. The money from the investor – who was a relative of one of the partners – was shot down and Breno was in Rio trying to make money. As a result, his team’s morale was damaged and they faced a financial struggle. “I had the opportunity to leave this dream and return to newsroom, but I persisted until I achieved it. One year later, with a more inspirational environment, I have the idea to use journalism as a tool for journalists,” Breno said.

To be part of this platform, you start with a basic plan. You receive full access to an online course with 16 hours of videos about how to produce quality and quantity reports and have access to a database of talented reporters from all over Brazil. Any beginner or experienced reporter, student or even a professional from another area who wants to do journalism can signing up for US $29.

His advice: Think about defining your persona, target your audience. “We have 48,000 new journalists graduating every year in Brazil.  It is a number that can visualize the universe of the market to understand the potential volume of people that we want as clients. It means that in 5 years, it will be 48 [48,000] x 5.This is a number that we hope to multiply over the years.”

MEIO – Positioning in the middle to talk to everybody and listen to people

Pedro Doria tell us all about Meio, his independent newsletter

For a journalist with many years of experience in journalism like Pedro Doria, the first question you need to ask yourself is, what interests you and what is important?

Pedro was executive editor of Globo and editor-in-chief of digital content for Estadão, as well as a columnist for Folha de Sao Paulo. In 2015, he received the Communication Award of Best Brazilian Technology Journalist. He led the team that won the Esso Award for Best Contribution to the Press in 2012. He was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University and also received the Caixa de Reportagem Social Prize, the Bobs Prize from Germany’s Deutsche Welle agency, and the Best Blogs Brazil award in the political category.

When he decided to create Meio, the main interest was in politics, digital – especially the sorts of things that impact daily life – and lifestyle. Meio got its name because the word in Portuguese means medium, as in the middle. “It’s not that we are centrist,” Pedro said. “Actually, we don’t define ourselves ideologically. But we are in the middle in the sense that we can actually talk to every body and listen to people.”

They are starting to talk about advertising. They can create sections for companies, add space, advertising and tailored products like customized newsletters. And, at this point, they also are going for a second round of investment.

“In the end, the thing I’m constantly worried about every single day is, am I being fair with every reader in respecting the way they see the world? Am I not being offensive?” Pedro said. “We are in the middle of a very serious political crisis in Brazil, since 2013. It’s a long time! And in the end, journalism is so important, it’s so fundamental for democracy. You can not make a democracy work if people are not informed. If people are not taking part in conversations, if there is no debate. And journalism, in most democracies, is under attack.”


It is in times of crisis, like what Brazil is experiencing today, that innovations emerge!

Chicas Poderosas’ mission is about inclusion, citizenship and gender. On March 8 and 9, Chicas Poderosas will be at the Google Campus to bring together creative minds from journalism, design and technology and rethink politics and political participation in Brazil.

We will offer fact-checking training (checking information to verify its truthfulness) with the Agency Lupa Educação and Chequeado from Argentina. We will track data on gender-biased and inclusive elections. The event includes interactive talks focusing on the Brazilian electoral campaign, analysis of women’s participation in the electoral process in Brazil, and how media are covering the active participation of women and minorities in politics. On the third day of the event, there will be a Hackathon in space Nubank. This space aims to bring together professionals from different areas of knowledge to work in collaboration with the data tracked during the previous days. Época magazine will publish the best story produced from this event.

This program is made possible in Brazil thanks to the support of Google News Labs, which seeks to promote diversity and combat fake news in newsrooms. ‘Tamo together,’ thank you very much for providing this experience to so many Brazilian women.

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