6.1. Introduction: Online Glocal journalism
VilaWeb (formerly known as La Infopista) is an independent, net native media
initiative launched in May 1995 by three journalist friends. It was designed originally
as a local directory, which aimed to bring together Catalan websites in Spain. Today,
VilaWeb takes 13th place among online newspapers in Spain, attracting about
630.000 unique visitors a month (June 2002). It is the first net native Spanish
newspaper, however, and one of the major web destinations in Catalunya. VilaWeb s
electronic newspaper contains about 90 local editions. It also features a WAP and
PDA service, leisure topics, consulting services, a weekly radio programme, thematic
channels, a list of forums, etc. all in Catalan. The objective of VilaWeb is to
combine the traditions of journalism with the creative potential of the Internet for
serving the online Catalan community about 10 million people in Spain and
The Internet is believed to be the first really planetary medium. However, this should
not imply, according to VilaWeb, that its use is only justified on the basis of globality.
On the contrary, the essence of VilaWeb is journalism that is different, closer, more
concrete and more open than that of any other media. It uses "the tools of globality
for the information of proximity". Publishing in Catalan and having local editions,
which cover the majority of towns in Catalunya, contribute to the feeling of
proximity. Some cities outside Spain with active Catalan communities (e.g. Los
Angeles, New York, Mexico, Melbourne) are part of the network as well.
Apart from developing the local editions, VilaWeb has been continuously broadening
its offer by creating several major areas (See graphic overview in annex). VilaWeb s
electronic diary and front page of VilaWeb.com (general news, dossiers,
documentaries and local editions) originated in the web directory Nosaltres.Com.
Then eight thematic channels were developed (Cap de 7mana, economy, sports,
literature, music, technology, telecommunications and universities), which aim to
create the same feeling of proximity of the local editions, but which focus on hobbies
or interests. User participation is encouraged via a list of forums and chat rooms.
Users can also start their own Colles , Internet clubs on topics that interest them,
provided they can attract a minimum number of interested users. In 1999, VilaWeb
Mobile with headlines and links to news sources was launched via WAP and is now
also available via PDA. VilaWeb for Kids is a more recent initiative. All these
initiatives are, of course, in Catalan.
VilaWeb is not only active on the Net. On the contrary, it is more and more moving
towards paper publications. It strives to be visible in the traditional media because
of its journalistic interest, and because it contributes to maintaining the VilaWeb
brand. All the newspapers must be active on the web and invest in it , says VilaWeb
co director Vicent Partal, and we must do the same thing but the other way round.
They go from paper to the web and we go from the web to paper. We don t want to
be seen only as a dot.com company, although web is in our brand name. The brand
needs to be more than the web. We want to be present in all media. That is why
VilaWeb bought 5% of the stakes of COMIT, a company created by the most
important regional newspaper in Catalunya.
Today, VilaWeb is still completely independent. Its ownership has only changed
because one of the three original founders passed away two years ago. The two