Caracas Chronicles Reboot: What comes next

Dear Readers,

As Juan said earlier, Caracas Chronicles is at a crossroads.

For the past 13 years – count ’em, 13! – this blog has slugged through Venezuelan reality on an all-volunteer, zero-revenue basis. We’ve tried all kinds of formats and styles, built up a bit of a brand and nurtured an amazing reader community. Considering we did it all on a budget of no dollars (actually, negative-a-few-dollars, since hosting isn’t free!) I’d say we’ve done alright.

But in those 13 years, Venezuela has changed almost beyond recognition. And its media landscape has, if anything, been transformed even more profoundly.

It used to be that there were news “out there” and we could just presume you already knew what they were. Our job was to bring fresh insight and perspective to the table, skewering the skewerable and praising the praiseworthy.

But the government’s growing chokehold over information has upended that calculus: the independent media we used to exist to comment on has all but disappeared. Sites like ours, used to sitting on the sidelines and heckling, increasingly find ourselves heckling at an empty stage.

Things have changed. Our sense is that the all-volunteer/zero-budget model doesn’t work very well in the era of Media Hegemony. Caracas Chronicles needs to be more than a hobby.

The transition from media commentary site into media site will only work if we have talented people dedicated to it full time. And that can’t happen without some revenue.

So over the next few months we’re going to be experimenting with new ways of squaring this circle.

Starting Monday, Emiliana Duarte is joining the blog full time as Managing Editor. Emi is one of those deliriously talented people you’re lucky to meet once in a long while who can just project-manage the living daylights out of pretty much anything.

The cherry on top? She’s a great writer, too.

She’ll be running the site on a day-to-day basis, and she’ll lead the search for a viable monetization strategy that conjugates getting-a-reliable-stream-of-amazing-content with not-annoying-you-the-readers-too-much.

We’re ridiculously lucky to have her.

To guide her, I’m going to take on the role of Executive Editor: my job is to set the overall direction of the blog, and empower her to kick quite a lot of ass in terms of delivery.

(In other words: yes, we'll still have in-jokes in the new Caracas Chronicles...)
(Let the Ilan Chester jokes…BEGIN!)

And Juan is going to stay on as Contributing Editor – running some very cool new projects we’ll be announcing in coming weeks, and of course writing too.

I can’t even say how grateful I am to Juan for taking over the joint over the last year and a half. He led the blog brilliantly through some rough patches as it morphed from purely-personal site to collective blogging platform, and he’s going to be right here blogging, debating, editing (and more!) as we move into the next stage.

For now, we’re going to move cautiously, sin prisa pero sin pausa. The changes may not be obvious on the surface at first, but give it a month or two.

Really, Caracas Chronicles has been dillydallying over this move for way too long.

The time has come to go pro.

Trust me, it’s going to be great!

Thanks so much for your continued support,

Quico T.