readers in exile

In the past five years, Nicaragua has experienced a massive exodus of citizens due to a political crisis that has no end in sight. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled violence, poverty, and government harassment in that short amount of time.

Based on data from the United Nations, researchers such as Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances, and Development Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, estimate that roughly 22% of the population of Nicaragua, a nation of 6.8 million people, lives abroad today.

The large displacement that the political crisis has caused doesn’t just have serious social, economic, and political implications for Nicaragua. It also changes information needs, both for those who have fled abroad and people who remained in the country.

Confidencial, an independent Nicaraguan media outlet based in exile in Costa Rica, has found that their website traffic from the U.S., Costa Rica, and Spain – all countries where Nicaraguan migrant communities have settled for decades – has grown significantly. Readership among people still in Nicaragua has also grown, as citizens have sought out reliable information amid the censorship that the Daniel Ortega administration has aimed to impose.

Serving these two communities – diaspora and home country audiences – poses a double challenge for exiled media organizations. How do you stay relevant to both? Do you have the bandwidth to do so? Ideally, there should be an honest and open conversation about the operational capacity and editorial priorities to achieve any strategy to serve these audiences.

Here is how we at CONFIDENCIAL, a member of the Network of Exiled Media Outlets (NEMO), have responded to the information needs of Nicaraguans who discovered our brand because of the political crisis, and those who were already consuming our content but had to leave the country – just as we did as media professionals – in search of safety.

How to serve your audiences abroad 

Take off your journalist hat and think of yourself as a citizen living abroad

As a journalist in exile, you are also a migrant. You know the struggles of settling in a new country.

Ask yourself: what information did you wish you had when starting your integration or naturalization process? What topics do you discuss with friends and acquaintances? Are you consuming the news, and do you see your community reflected in that coverage?

When in 2015 Nicaraguan journalist Cindy Regidor moved to Costa Rica, she noticed that there was little media coverage of the Nicaraguan migrant community in her new country. The daily lives of migrants weren’t reflected in the news, nor was analysis of their struggles or reporting on their contributions to society being published.

This didn’t make sense, Regidor recalled, especially considering that Nicaraguans make up 10% of the population in Costa Rica. By the end of 2023, remittances represented about 30% of Nicaragua’s GDP, 20% of which came from Costa Rica.

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by Cinthia Membreño, International Journalists’ Network

Photo by Charles Shaffer on Unsplash

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