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How Conexión Migrante is serving immigrants in the U.S.—from Mexico

The Mexico-based newsroom overhauled its editorial workflow to directly answer questions and develop content based on those answers.

Conexión Migrante launched on Nov. 8, 2016, the same day President Donald Trump was elected. Founder Patricia Mercado, who is based in Mexico, envisioned a Spanish-language newsroom that would serve migrants in the United States with relevant immigration news.

In a recent case study published by the The Membership Puzzle Project, Mercado described the newsroom’s initial plan and pivot to a “switchboard” approach to meeting information needs:

“We started Conexión Migrante with the notion that migrants had nostalgia about their roots, about what was happening in the places they left. Basically lots of information about Mexico, or whatever Trump said. We thought that was something they would value,” Mercado recalls.

Six months in, Conexión Migrante received a Facebook message from a Mexican father living in the United States who wanted to get a passport for his U.S.-born son. He anticipated being forced to return to Mexico due to immigration policy changes, and he wanted to ready his family.

From there, emails and more Facebook messages flooded in. As the team worked to answer questions, they also turned them into written articles. Then, a Facebook follower sent an audio message asking for a phone number because they didn’t know how to read or write.

That’s when Conexión Migrante realized it needed a public phone number, which it placed at the bottom of its website. Word spread fast. From the case study:

By the end of 2019, they had answered more than 2,000 phone calls and replied to almost 10,000 Facebook messages. In early 2020, before the pandemic, they were receiving an average of 450 Facebook messages and 200 phone calls a month.

They overhauled their editorial workflow and hired people who would listen as people told the newsroom, through their questions, what audiences needed to know:

This also required a different approach to sourcing. It was no longer about finding experts to quote, it was about building relationships with organizations serving immigrants who could help them reach more of those immigrants, and distribute the answers to their questions.

Audiences took note. Conexión Migrante now has more than 160,000 Facebook followers.

Read on to see how Conexión Migrante has approached hiring, made possible through a government-paid internship program, to support this new approach.