Puerto Rico: ‘Speak Your Mind’ Online

Running out of subjects and opinions is not something you can accuse Qiibo [es] of. The online magazine , whose slogan is “Speak your Mind”, covers everyday Puerto Rican politics, local news, and the latest entertainment and technology news. Of course, their authors often have an opinionated view on each of these subjects.

It is only fitting that the staff is as varied as the themes they cover; they are led by founder Xavier Montalvo (@xaviimon) and fellow founding members Gabriel Rodríguez (@gabrielrodz), Orlando Alberto Jesús Vélez (@oajvelez) and Aimee Ortiz (@aor01).

The team is rounded up by fellow collaborators WKAQ Radio [es] journalist Jonathan Lebrón Ayala (@jlebronWKAQiiBo), their very own international correspondent, from Spain and currently living in Australia, Daniel Cerejido (@dcerejido), and Yara Cardona.

We interviewed the staff and talked about Qiibo's interests, their place within Puerto Rico's online media, their relation with traditional media in the Island, and the Puerto Rican blogosphere.

Global Voices (GV): What is Qiibo and how was it conceived?

Qiibo was something we felt we personally needed as constant Internet users. A 100% local Puerto Rican blog/site/magazine, that could mix both the latest on everything from new technologies and the film industry, with a little touch of opinion on local and international events. We try to blend in the day to day news that we are constantly following on the Internet, with deep, opinionated analysis of current important issues. As we say, we let our minds speak. In a sentence, Qiibo is the result of what's lacking on the Puerto Rican traditional media today.

GV: How has Qiibo been received? What has been the feedback?

Since the moment we put the site out there on the Internet (more than a year from now), the reception has been not only positive, but has also exceeded our expectations. People read our daily posts on technology and movies to be up to date (way more than by reading traditional media) on what's happening out there. Also, our hard news analysis pieces have created long lasting and very interesting debates and have been shared in many, many sites and blogs through the web. People expect our opinion on things, and we work hard to let our voice be heard on every subject we consider worthy.

GV: To what extent is Qiibo an alternative online media and news outlet?

It is interesting. We normally don't cover live events (although we have been able to give live coverage to such events as the general strike of 2010 and the strike in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), and have done as well live and exclusive interviews), but for some reason, we usually talk about things that regular online media and news outlet won’t talk about, or they do it later than we do. A good example was a post we did early in 2010 about a letter written by a local Senator to the US Congress. The letter, which asked the members of the Congress to consider giving statehood to Puerto Rico, was filled with mistakes and wrongly constructed sentences. Well, we were probably one of the very few to not only post it, but actually mention and expose the errors . The letter was accessible to everyone, yet very few media outlets (not including any of the main printed media) covered it. In that case, as well as many others, Qiibo has acted as a news alternative that people have definitively relied on. The same was the case with our coverage of the documents regarding Puerto Rico that were leaked by Wikileaks. Although that was afterwards covered in massive media, Qiibo was one of the first (if not the very first) to publish, and analyze them.

GV: How would you describe the relationships of alternative and mainstream media in Puerto Rico? Is there space for potential collaborations of alternative and mainstream media?

So far local mainstream media doesn't see alternative media, blogs specially, as competition. We think they're wrong about that, but fortunately for us, it has provoked a good, collaborative relation with the blogosphere. It is our opinion that eventual mergers, further collaborations or even joint ventures, will be happening in the local scene, as it is already happening between international mainstream media and alternative media, such as the current collaboration between the Newsweek Magazine and the Daily Beast website. That's the future for Qiibo, in our opinion.

GV: Any big local story (or stories) that Qiibo has its eye on this year?

We are following closely a few issues that we have been constantly given attention to, such as:

  • The local status and the referendum.
  • UPR student strikes.
  • The construction and planning of via verde (editor's note: this refers to a natural gas pipe being constructed by the government that is opposed by different groups).
  • Civil rights violations.
  • The party in power filling up the government with their allies.
  • The Popular Democratic Party (pro-commonwealth) strategy for the next elections, and what the ‘New ELA (Commonwealth)’ is going to consist of.
  • Also international events such as the turnout of the protests in the Arab countries, the road the global economy will take and the USA-Cuban relations in a very key year for them.

GV: What do you think of the Puerto Rican blogosphere and the social media networks in Puerto Rico? Any favorite blogs/sites you would like to mention?

Both the local blogosphere, as well as the use of new social media platforms, are currently growing and will only become more relevant, influential and important in society. As more people have access to the web, more people will discover the many choices they have in order to be informed. In social media we already have interesting characters who have more influence that one would think. Guys like @Macetaminofen, @Nerdote or @Sorprendeme are an example of local ‘Internet Celebrities’. On the other hand, journalists and commentators like @JayFonsecaPR or @LeninPR give people a more personal touch to the news.

Our list of outstanding blogs are: the ones that cover technology like tecnetico.comdgtallika.comblackberrypr.netiphonefanatic.net, yosoyandroid.commiwindowsphone.net; satire websites like elñame.com; the ones that cover politics and current events like prensailegal.com and nuestropensar.com. We also have UNDOdigital.com and elfaktor.com that are helping to put together the Puerto Rican art scene in Puerto Rico and the blogosphere.


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