Caracas Chronicles sí sube cerro

You’ve probably seen the ad by now. Chances are you’re asking yourself: who needs another Chávez-centered site…in Spanish?! Aren’t there already 20 million Noticias24 clones?!

There are, so EsferaPublica is not going to try to re-invent that wheel. What Venezuela doesn’t have, when you think about it, is a really good News Blog: a passionate, opinionated place bringing together smart bloggers and even smarter commenters you can turn to for analysis, for debate, for a genuine exchange of views, and for links to consistently interesting material from other sites. This is the kind of thing Jonathan Chait, Andrew Sullivan and Conor Friedersdorf do in the US, and Alex Massie does in England… yet, for some reason, nobody really does that in the Venezuelan Spanish-language blogosphere.

It’s high time Venezuelans started taking the blog seriously as a medium. A new medium that’s different from an opinion column, different from journalism, and Lord yes, different from the state-run propaganda machinery your tax-bolívares help finance. A medium with its own rules and conventions and its own value added, and one that’s desperately needed when the space to debate closes down in other, more traditional media.

Taking the blog seriously means thinking through the specific capabilities of the blog as a medium, the things blogs can do better than other media, and focusing on them. 

It means building a blog that does the things only a blog can do, that picks the fights that only a blog can pick, that builds a community that only a blog can built, that launches the debates only a blog can launch and that covers the stories only a blog can cover. It means going beyond just copying and pasting stuff designed for other media onto the blog, and leaning on the community and debate capabilities that blogs have and traditional media don’t.

That’s what is going to be about.

Building on eight years of experience doing this in English, we think we can make a success of it. We think there are endless possibilities for this kind of medium to reach broad swathes of the Venezuelan population. Because, let’s face it, a blog about Venezuelan politics, in English, is by design, elitist. Why not bring the debate to Yuleysy in the Petare Infocentro? Why can’t she get the benefit of a reasonable discussion of the issues, one that only our software and our community of commenters can provide?

There’s a huge, untapped market there: a ton of people who are hungry for the kind of space that’s serious, passionate, engaged, but can’t find it.

But we’re aware that with just two of us, doing this part time, it’s going to be hard to build the kind of posting volume it would really take to make this work.

So that is why we need your help. As we embark on this little adventure, we count on your dollars and on your enthusiastic word-of-mouth, to get this idea off the ground. A blog is only as strong as its reader community.

We’re willing to put in the effort – are you?