Young journalistic watchdog in Guatemala

Crimes against journalists combined with a shortage of funding made it difficult to publish stories about corruption and impunity in Guatemala. At least, for media that don’t bow to meddlesome investors who have little affinity with freedom of expression. Digital news platform Nómada is one such shining example of independent investigative journalism.

Nómada wants to enable Guatemalans to hold the elite to account. With powerful stories it exposes corruption and misappropriation issues. Nómada is innovative: it makes many multimedia productions and initiated the Latin American feminist women’s magazine Volcánica. In 2017, with the support of Free Press Unlimited, Nómada published 24 research articles and blogs on transparency, justice and impunity. The quality is high, and the research is thorough; Nómada won first place in the National Prize for Journalism in Guatemala.

Transparency around elections

In July, for example, Nómada revealed how conservative parties in the election committee of the House of Representatives tried to put the High Electoral Council offside. This council was installed in 2015 in response to the population’s demand for more transparency in the electoral process. Thanks to the secret recordings that Nómada published, the High Electoral Council was able to intervene and the conspiring parliamentarians were called to account. For example, Nómada was able to secure openness surrounding the 2019 elections for the time being.

Journalism is also a risky business in Guatemala. The bitter downside of more openness is an increase in threats and violence against journalists. In 2017 alone, 8 journalists were killed. Nómada also experienced the downside of its success. In 2017, the website was hacked and blocked, and the private tweets of the chief editor ended up on the street. With financial support from Free Press Unlimited, Nómada was able to take a number of safety measures, such as bullet-proof glass, an armoured car, extra security for the website and training in digital security protocols.

Beer and pizza

With its bold approach, Nómada attracts 350,000 visitors to its website every month: mostly young people, but also politicians, decision-makers and CEOs. Videos and interactive productions are viewed more than 150,000 times a month. After 3 years, Nómada has its own audience of mostly millennials, with whom it regularly talks during informal ‘beer & pizza nights’. It also organises discussion evenings on controversial issues such as abortion, for which Nómada brought 250 readers together in 2017. Also, the platform directly involves its readers in the topics on which it publishes. Furthermore, the events are also a welcome source of income for Nómada and part of its sustainable business strategy to not only remain professional and appealing, but also independent.

Partner since: 2016
Donor: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Contribution: € 25,000

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