Elaine Díaz Rodríguez, Nieman’s first Cuban Fellow and a member of the class of 2015, has launched Periodismo de Barrio a new website that focuses on the impact of natural disasters on local communities. She worked on developing plans for the site during her Nieman year as a student in Ethan Zuckerman’s “Future of News and Participatory Media” class at MIT.
Speaking to The New York Times, she shared her thoughts about what it’s like to launch an independent news outlet in Cuba, a country with no press freedom laws, no independent printing presses and extremely limited Internet access:
“I believe in journalism as a force that can improve societies. I also believe that there are problems in local areas in Cuba that need to be addressed. A process as complex as the economic and social reforms that are taking place in my country at this moment, in the midst of broadening ties with the United States, needs as many voices as you can get to illuminate the Cuba that is emerging.”
A journalist and blogger, Díaz Rodríguez has written about digital communication, tech infrastructure and the digital divide for Cuban media. As the digital editor at the Cuban bureau of Inter Press Service, she created Cuba 2.0, a project dedicated to increasing Cuban voices on the Internet. She also has directed multimedia work on sexual rights, gender violence and political issues. Prior to her Nieman Fellowship, Díaz Rodríguez taught at the University of Havana and was the sole Cuban author for Global Voices Online. She blogs for La Polemica Digital (The Digital Controversy) about social problems and the politics of online expression in Cuba.
Read her Nieman Reports article, The State of News in Cuba, from 2014.