In 2021, Claves21, an Argentinian network of environmental reporters, and Latin Clima, a Costa Rican media outlet, both noticed a knowledge gap in their regions when it came to podcasting.
With the support of EJN, Latin Clima and Claves21 decided to collaborate to increase the quality of biodiversity-focused podcast coverage across Latin America.
“We combined our strengths for a better outcome,” says Fermin Koop, the co-founder of Claves21, which seeks to promote and encourage media attention and coverage environmental issues in Argentina.
With their national and regional reach of approximately 7,000 journalists and decision-makers in Latin America, they collaborated to provide individualized podcast training and support for journalists. The project, supported by EJN’s Biodiversity Media Initiative (BMI) went on to produce Podcast Raiz, (Roots Podcast), a first-of-its-kind Spanish language series that focuses on biodiversity issues across Latin America.
From February to November 2021, the project produced 23 podcasts — 13 by LatinClima and Claves21, and 10 by local Latin American reporters. According to Koop, their audience was particularly interested in episodes featuring endangered species, such as the leatherback turtle and the “Cotorra Margariteña” (Daisy Parrot) from Venezuela. “We also had a large audience on an episode regarding the Escazu Agreement, the first environmental agreement of Latin America,” he says. The Escazu Agreement, signed on 22 April 2021, enshrines the right of every person of present and future generations to live in a healthy and safe environment.
The podcast episodes were published on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google and escuchoriaz.com, the microsite developed for the project. Some episodes were also reproduced by local radio stations. In total, podcast episodes were played 7,000 times in total, across 14 different Latin American countries.
“We believe there is a nascent podcast culture in Latin America,” says Koop. There’s a growing interest of people behind this news format, which we expect to keep growing over the years.”
Several emerging markets are growing their podcast listener base rapidly, particularly in Latin America, reports Insider Intelligence. The market research company found that “Spanish is well on the way to becoming the second universal language for podcasting. In 2021, Mexico posted a higher rate (25.8% of internet users) than much of Europe.”
“Podcasts can be a way forward”
To carry out their project, Latin Clima and Claves21 launched an open call, selecting ten reporters to contribute episodes to the series. “Many of them didn’t have experience with podcasting, so we provided training and support,” says Koop.
To streamline the coordination between commissioned reporters, the lead organizations created a standardized manual on the outcomes they expected and walked reporters through the podcast format, step by step.
"I regularly collaborate with organizations for the defense of water and ecosystems in the Peruvian Amazon, so I was able to quickly have access to the people who were the right ones to talk about these challenges,” says participating journalist, Juan Arellano, who produced an episode about the Peruvian Amazon as part of the project.
The project organized four webinars for journalists featuring specialists across the region that addressed theoretical and practical issues related to biodiversity in Latin America and how to use different formats for reporting, with a cumulative audience of approximately 400 attendees across all four webinars. They also released 27 newsletters, one for each webinar and podcast episode.
In addition, Claves 21 and Latin Clima produced a free Spanish-language resource guide to aid reporters covering biodiversity-related issues.
“There were no similar guides written in Spanish,” says Koop. “In particular, [there were no guides that] incorporated multimedia elements such as podcasting into biodiversity coverage.” The resource guide can be viewed here.
Arellano hopes the project will encourage media outlets to pay more attention to biodiversity issues. “Beyond a small number of independent media interested in issues such as pollution and deforestation, the coverage of [biodiversity] in the large media is almost null,” he says.
This is especially unfortunate given the growing demand from citizens to access more content about biodiversity, adds Koop. “Podcasts can be a way forward for more media outlets to deliver on that demand,” he says.
Check out our Biodiversity Media Initiative page to learn more about the project.
Banner image: A freshly hatched leatherback turtle / Credit: Max Gotts via Unsplash.