Award-winning Spanish news site Soitu.es closes

Soitu.es graphic

Just a few weeks ago, the Spanish Soitu.es news site was praised for its “where core ideas come through as confident innovation and mesh with traditional journalism to create a fresh and distinctive package”.

The words came from the judges at the Online News Association awards, where Soitu.es was, for a second year running, as an example of excellence in online journalism.

But the pioneering news site is closing down. In a story titled, Hasta la vista y gracias, founder Gumersindo LaFuente talked about how Soitu.es had became a victim of the financial crisis.

LaFuente explained that in the last few months, he had failed to persuade the site’s main backer, BBVA, that patience was needed as the nascent project found its feet in turbulent economic times.

Despite being barely two years old, the site attracted half a million unique users a month, while reaching a further two million through third-party widgets.

Its closure is a loss to the field of online journalism, as Soitu.es was doing what all news organisations should be doing: innovating and developing new tools, experimenting with new ways to tell stories online and reach audiences.

In the words of the ONA judges:

An underlying philosophy of sharing, linking and audience-focused engagement runs through its mix of original content and aggregated news and features material. Giveaway widgets, the ambitious flashinfo news panel and the elselector crowd-aided aggregation tool all get front-page billing.But the site is more than just these elements. It’s a work-in-progress.

Unfortunately, a work-in-progress takes time to nature and bloom.

In a second post, talking how staff had cried, swore and blamed themselves for what had happened, Soitu.es said it was planning a public memorial on Wednesday evening at its offices in Madrid.

All of us who believe in online journalism will be there, at least in spirit.

3 Comments

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  • […] Sin embargo, la principal culpable de que una de las iniciativas más innovadoras surgidas en el seno del periodismo digital que se ha llevado a cabo en nuestro país haya echado el cierre no ha sido otra que la crisis que ha afectado a las bases financieras de la economía mundial. Soitu nació en 2007 como un medio on line independiente, pero esta independencia de los cibermedios le hizo ser dependiente de las entidades bancarias y de la industria de la publicidad. Soitu surgió al margen de los grandes grupos de comunicación, pero se amparó al cobijo de la financiación de un sector que en tiempos de crisis no hace concesiones. A pesar de que durante sus apenas dos años de vida Soitu mantuvo su independencia y gozó de la más absoluta libertad de expresión, este nuevo medio periodístico no pudo evitar convertirse en víctima de otro tipo de censura: la censura económica. Así, lo expresaba el diario El Progreso, que junto con los principales medios de comunicación de nuestro país como El País, RTVE, ABC, Telecinco, etc., se lamentaron  por esta gran pérdida y demostraron su apoyo a un nuevo tipo de periodismo digital. Los medios internacionales también se hicieron eco de la desaparicón de Soitu y expresaron su solidaridad con los profesionales que formaban parte de Soitu: “All of us who believe in online journalism will be there, at least in spirit.” ( Reportr. net) […]

  • […] in October 2009, the site shuttered after just 22 months. Its main financial backer and principal shareholder, the Spanish bank BBVA, had pulled the […]