The dictionary definition of owner is the “person who has control or dominion over a person or a thing,” the “proprietor” or the “master” of something.
Traditional and corporate media outlets are usually owned by wealthy families such as the Sulzberger family of the New York Times or the Jiménez family, the owner of Group Nación in our country.
When The Voice of Guanacaste was born in 2005 as The Voice of Nosara, it was on that same path. The Johnson family from the United States owned The Voice of Nosara, an informative bulletin for the community that would eventually become a monthly publication with news and opinion about the area. Back then, it covered the districts of Nosara, Sámara and Nicoya. In 2013 the newspaper transformed into The Voice of Guanacaste and expanded its coverage to the entire province.
Two years later, The Voice of Guanacaste decided to change its path. We didn’t want to aspire to a lucrative media outlet, rather a regional newspaper with a mission to inform so that Guanacaste can progress. It was time to stop having a single owner so that we could become a media outlet that belongs to all Guanacastecans. In fact, it was the Johnsons who pushed for this change.
That’s how we moved away from being a traditional, regional media outlet and became a nonprofit organization with a board of directors and associates whom we report to every year with the task of telling our readers, our true owners, about the challenges we must overcome in order to achieve our goals.
It’s because we believe in inclusive, demanding and truthful journalism that we have large support from professionals in journalism, finance, art, technology and human rights who donate their time and experience and advise us through our Advisories Committees.
At times, we have been asked what the difference is between us, a nonprofit, and traditional media outlets. The answer is that absolutely all our revenue must be reinvested in the newspaper. No profits are distributed to owners or a board of directors.
Today, John and Susan Johnson, are our biggest donors through their philanthropic foundation, The Atlantic Foundation. They contribute 60 percent of our revenue. The remaining 40 percent comes from the sale of advertisements and services such as design and video production. We also have donations from a new foundation in the United States called The Goldhirsh Foundation and receive money from national and international grants and awards.
Our objective is to depend less and less on a single donor and diversify our revenue sources. In the future, we want to depend on a broad and solid base of small and large donors and sponsors who believe in our project.
Despite the fact that we still depend on the generosity of a family, they are not owners of The Voice of Guanacaste. No revenue source, whether a philanthropic foundation or an advertiser, can condition their contribution with editorial influence.
Not only are they not allowed to give conditions, they don’t want to. That’s the greatest gift they can give us: editorial independence.
The only ones who can request investigations, correct us when we get things wrong or demand special reports are the Guanacastecans citizens, our readers. We owe them, because they are the true owners of The Voice of Guanacaste.
To learn more about our board of directors and advisory committees, visit