Juan Varela: Covering Journalism 3.0 in Spain

Juan VarelaFor the next few weeks, we’ll be offering profiles of bloggers
nominated for the Reporters Sans Frontières weblog awards. This profile is part of the series. Please visit the RSF voting page and vote for your favorite blogs. – Your friendly editors

Spanish journalist and media consultant, Juan Varela, is the brain behind the blog of Periodistas 21, which refers to the new journalism and journalist “that should utilize intellectual instruments, professionals, technologies, networked information, and above all else, pay attention to the interactivity and socialization of the information that comes through the new media.” In an email interview Varela recounts how the blog began:

At the beginning it was a tool for a journalist and consultant that traveled a lot. In the blog I jotted down and reflected on interesting materials. Little by little it turned into something more personal and more open at the same time. Personal because it grew with my own personal interests and open due to the interaction with the readers.

But ever since Spain's March 11th, 2004 terrorist attack, it has become much more. I naively asked Varela if the Spanish blogosphere has experienced any watershed moments.

Yes. On March 13th, two days after the terrorist attack of March 11th and close to the general elections, cell phone text messages, some forums, and blogs spread what I call Politics 3.0 from the margins of the political parties and towards formal democracy. Thousands of young people took to the streets to protest against the lack of information and political manipulation. Their action precipitated the unexpected defeat of the Partido Popular in the elections the next day and the triumph of the Socialists.

In particular, Varela cites his post, The Day Text Messaging Changed Politics as his most important. It also furthered the scope of his blog from discussing only journalism to a broader analysis of politics and social organization.

Little by little, Varela claims the Spanish traditional media is beginning to catch on. Specifically, they have been sufficiently influenced to:

Periodistas 21 is updated at least daily and full of the latest links, insights, and analysis of how new media is affecting journalism, society, and politics in Spain and throughout Latin America.

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