I present Montevideo's premier by default online English language newspaper, The Montevideo Standard. With the closure leaving Bitcoin news a rather indefensible line1 and the question of what remains on the other side of the herd's present stampede uncertain, it is time to try something different.
Taking an inventory I find the following at my disposal, in no particular order:
- A shade more than five years of experience writing increasingly tighter news copy, albeit from an "online first" sourcing model.
- Some dedicated servers rented until at least next year.
- Some cash, spread rather unfairly and unequally across three currencies that if spent prudently and frugally can last quite a while.
- Access to a world capital city right outside my front door.
- A fledgling local "meat-WoT" that can be grown with some effort.
- A socialist world that's decided to stand still over a not-quite common cold the next few months.
- The still very fresh memory of some much needed slaps.
- A plan for growing Qntra developed during the last days of the Republic with substantial help from Diana Coman.
The Montevideo Standard will be bringing its readers news of Montevideo and the world.
- Local - News of the city with an emphasis on informative and actionable items. As time goes on this will expand into feature pieces covering events, profiles, etc. Features may be spun off into its own broad category at some point.
- International - Things happening around the world. The ongoing marginalization of the USSA.
- Economy - What is happening in markets and business at a time Governments of the world seem to be shifting to flavors of Chavismo as their future organizing principle.
- Technology - Computers, Interwebz, Bidets, etc
- Opinion - I don't plan to populate this with anything for quite some time, if ever. It's dark presence among the category links could be a strong marketing point.
If the news is something that could have fit on Qntra, it will have probably have a place to fit here. The categories exist at the top for folks who read Qntra but aren't inclined to read anything but the lulziest local news of the weird. The very tight eye of the needle governing what made it on to Qntra the last years will be relaxed quite a bit. There will also be far more pictures once the current "soft opening" phase wraps up next week.
The editorial tack will be anti-socialist/anti-pantsuit, but providing information useful locally will necessarily mean a wider scope of coverage than Qntra fell into. The Montevideo Standard will be a lean, local alternative paper at its core. What grows out of that core remains to be seen.
Unless some hard, actually blocking problem emerges, I do not anticipate revisiting whether The Montevideo Standard is what I should be doing until March 2021 at the earliest. Historically Montevideo and Uruguay have had a well defined season of interesting to foreigners from November through March of ever year with peak interest in January through February. With the pretense bubble popping, it is hard to divine how much of that interest will survive.
Depending on what happens this next year growing towards a general south-LATAM expat paper or moving to saturate the local market with Spanish language coverage are possibilities.
Target Audiences And The Competition
The local Spanish language newspaper market is saturated with established papers largely holding well defined editorial slants that shape their audience. In spite of the well defined attempts at audience targeting among the Spanish language papers, they all tend to be very wordy in the coverage with only El Observador standing out with a local reputation for quality journalism if existing polls and surveys are to be believed. In this environment the following audiences are the intended target at the outset:
- Locals with English language ability - Publishing in English provides an instant Elitism filter. Numerous private schools dedicated to teaching English to adults exist and most people I've seen doing anything of note here have at least some English skills. In spoken language many tend to fall into speaking English with the Uruguayo alphabet, but the potential for an audience interested in consistently better news that happens to be in English is here.
- Expats and Tourists - A small market, potentially much smaller on the tourist side depending on how the next months unfold. Delivering interesting and actionable news that isn't buried under the latest drama coming out of Casavalle and Malvin Norte can appeal. It's also a potential networking hub. With the Frente Amplio out of national goverment for at least five years, provided Uruguay does a comparatively better job keeping its motor running than eerywhere else, there may be the potential for an expat population boom.
- Expat minded folks - A potentially larger audience than the actual expats are folks unhappy inside the zone that haven't made the jump into leaving yet. Just because they haven't left yet doesn't mean they can't be interested in living vicariously through the news and happenings abroad.
- The Wider World - If folks outside of the DC swamp can be lured into reading the occasional Washington Post piece, I don't see any reason not to try luring them into reading a newspaper that happens to be published in Montevideo.
Bringing The New Paper Into Human Economic Activity
This remains an open question after an investigation earlier this week popped the idea that seemed like it could have been the core for an advertisement supported model. For the first few months at least, what to do on this front will remain open while I focus on networking, meeting people, and working to build credibility through quality, if not entirely complete, coverage.
Advertisements for expat and tourist servicing enterprises are a possibility. On the other hand doing the activity of journalism and networking could itself end delivering the currency of knowing people doing things leading to some other opportunity down the line. It may be that public relations or my own tourist services of some sort end up being the economic activity that follows from journalism.
On this front the direction is more doing, testing, and meeting with less thinking and focusing on the online.
Bringing In Contributors
While I'm going to try running this paper as a business, I'm interested in people looking for a bit of hobby income. People with RSA identities are invited to get a hold of me to work out deals that'll but a bit of BTC in their pockets in exchange for producing the sorts of stories that would have been of interest for Qntra. Locally I'll be talking to people, testing some pamphleting, and looking for some locals interested in making a bit of pocket money as independents.
I will not be entering into any formal employment relationships locally for the forseeable future. I will however entertain offers for GPG contracted services stretching out up to one year.
I will be pursuing a mix of online and meatspace outreach. Of elements included in the Qntra plan that can be adapted, the tools for automating the time consuming parts of blog commenting will be very useful. How far escalation along the "War on the Web" toolset ends up being defensible post-Republic will have to be tested, but testing the limits is necessary. Offline strategy will focus on meeting people, testing flyers, and being places.
For a long time I have been overweight on thinking about things and underweight on doing things. The news business presents an ever steeper climb for upstarts to ascend, but what good is picking something to bang against if the medium isn't going to resist the doing? I can see where this leads, wait for the cattle pen to come in ever tighter, or I can pursue some not yet defined thing which today means spinning in thought and effectively watching the walls on the pen come in just the same. Thanks to the Republic experiment I have experience doing a something. How I did it then wasn't enough, but now that the hallucinated training wheels are gone... it is time to fall a bit, take some lumps, and try to move on in living.
- Or as Qntra coverage since roughly the time of Trump's election would show, it has been hard to do primarily Bitcoin news since the Republican edifice started showing wear. With the Republic Impossible, Qntra as such doesn't seem to have space for being of much other than historical interest. I could try to add to the conversation around the end of the Republic, but what can be said other than "In hindsight, it is clear that despite being the right thing it may me stupid. It may have even allowed me to quietly load up on still more stupid than I could otherwise carry." I was tired before the Closure. After I was and still somewhat am sad. What seems to have left is a lot of, at times rather paralyzing, anxiety. For being the right thing, the Republic opened a particularly dangerous "faith thinking" hole in my head. Just as the herds have frozen in panic, I feel a greater freedom from anxiety than I have in a very long time. [↩]