Cuba

The Cuban Lesson: If You Want Free Access to Media, Use Hackers

Bad internet connections, pricey internet packages, censorship, suppressed freedom of expression and content blocking: this is Cuba. How come, then, Cubans are such a well-informed crowd? Hackers and offline social networking are the answer.
 
In the past, it was illegal to own a computer in Cuba; and it was hard to buy one. Because of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, imports of technology were blocked. But in a landmark decision in 2008 when Raul Castro took over the government from his brother Fidel, he allowed Cubans to have computers and cellphones.
 
Eight years later, Cuba boasts a vibrant media content-sharing culture. But these exchanges take place mostly offline. Content from international media, which are fully blocked by Cuba’s government, is feverishly shared through pen drives passed from one to another across the country. The government has turned a blind eye to this growing system of information distribution.
 
But how do these half-secret, real-life social networks of content distribution really work? The offline world is the answer.

Latin American Digital Media Are Not so Digital

Latin America has seen unprecedented growth of digital journalistic enterprises in the past five years. But serious questions about their viability have arisen as many of them only sloppily engage with audiences.
 
When Daniel Eilemberg, 30 at the time, launched Pajaro Politico (Political Bird) back in 2009, a Twitter account curating content from international news groups and breaking its own news, nobody would have guessed that it would eventually become a political news and aggregation site with more online readers than well-funded sites of established media groups in Mexico. 
 
It did. Animal Politico site, geared on publishing political news, was born in a year. Today, it boasts over one million likes on Facebook and some 1.1 million Twitter followers. The site’s readership exceeds four million unique visitors. Animal Politico is not alone in Latin America’s booming internet news market. Since 2010, the region has seen staggering growth in new digital journalism initiatives.