Study finds El Periódico impacts positively on Guatemalan society

Independent daily El Periódico nurtures democratic institutions, implements best journalism practices and has a positive impact on the community. These were among the findings of a pilot study of the impact the investigative daily has on society.

Last year, a team of Masters students from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York worked with MDIF to create a toolkit to measure the impact of independent news outlets on their communities, starting with investigative daily El Periódico.

The team surveyed and interviewed journalists, readers and wider civil society to measure the newspaper’s impact. They found that El Periódico:

  • is a recognized source of quality investigative journalism in urban Guatemala;
  • has a positive impact on the community;
  • contributes towards promoting access to and nurturing democratic institutions; and
  • implements the best journalistic practices, including building relationships and nurturing a culture of independent and unbiased sources, and disseminating relevant information on key public issues, such as security, organized crime and corruption.

Civil society respondents, including members from organizations representing indigenous groups, business, religious organisations, and international community/organisations, were asked to rate El Periódico, independent media in general, and all media as a whole on a range of statements using “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” El Periódico was ranked highest in all categories:

  • 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with statements about El Periódico’s positive impact on its community, as compared to 62% for independent media in general and 43% for all media.
  • When asked if El Periódico does a good job of investigative reporting, 91% of respondents agreed, with 37% strongly agreeing. This compared to 72% of respondents agreeing when rating independent media, while only 35% of people agreed when asked about all media.
  • When asked whether or not El Periódico uncovers corruption and fraud, 87% of respondents agreed and 43% of people strongly agreed. Only 26% of people strongly agreed for independent media and 9% for all media.
  • Respondents were asked about El Periódico’s reporting on a variety of topics vital to promoting strong communities. A total of 92% of respondents agreed that they report on organized crime, with 45% strongly agreeing; 86% of respondents agreed that they report on issues of democracy and governance, with 47% strongly agreeing; and 94% agreed that they report on the economy, with 31% strongly agreeing.

Our annual Impact Dashboard on the financial sustainability of the news businesses we work with includes anecdotal instances of societal impact, but this is our first comprehensive study of an individual news outlet’s impact on the community in which it operates.

We are using this pilot as a step towards designing a framework that measures any news outlet’s impact on society in almost any environment. Over the course of the year, we will be consulting with specialists in the area to finalise the methodology and conduct further assessments.

Read the full report: MDIF-SIPA EL Periodico Impact Report

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