Damián Osta

Ashoka Fellow
Montevideo, MO, Uruguay
Fellow Since 2010

Citation

This profile was prepared when Damián Osta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Recognizing the transformational power of communications media, and the inadequacy of most efforts to harness that potential for social ends, Damián gathered a group of people to create La Diaria (The Daily): A new media space that awakens the muted voices of Uruguay’s youth. In order to attract younger generations—40 percent of its readers are between the ages of 20 and 34—La Diaria writers and editors infuse their articles with catchy text and compelling photojournalism, while never compromising the quality of the content. The newspaper is published online and in print.

On one level, La Diaria is breaking the news monopoly currently occupied by a few antiquated media sources. Through it, La Diaria is redefining both the format and content of the news in order to promote a culture of civic engagement among Uruguayans, and most importantly, among its younger generations. It is the first newspaper in the country to have instituted the presence of a reader’s ombudsman to ensure accountability. In addition, Damián has created the La Diaria Café: A space where Uruguayans can engage in meaningful debates and dialogue around important public policy issues, and take part in diverse cultural events. Both the newspaper and the café are providing an environment where youth—previously excluded from the public discourse—can participate along with politicians, journalists, and citizen organizations (COs) in discussions on such topics as education reform or communication legislation.

On another level, Damián is tackling the significant, but largely invisible, problem posed by the way newspaper distributors control the market. By developing a new newspaper delivery system, and skipping the middlemen, La Diaria is driving the price of papers down while creating new jobs.

As La Diaria was being established, Damián was adamant about not making it simply another “alternative” news source. His goal, and he is well on his way to getting there, is to turn La Diaria into a “mainstream” newspaper, and transform the way the industry operates. Damián is determined to outpace the biggest Uruguayan daily within five years. Thanks to its innovative approach to news reporting, La Diaria’s content is already beginning to permeate other mainstream media sources on the radio, on TV and in the press. Damián has established relationships with COs in the south of Brazil to replicate the model there.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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