04 June 2007

The Mexico City News returns

The Mexico City News was published in English for some 50 years until it folded in late 2002. (What was the exact date? Please comment if you know.) Now with the Miami Herald Mexico Edition shutting down, the News will reappear in the late summer - if everything goes as planned.

While things are still in the planning stages, buzz in Mexico City media circles has the paper returning with an O'Farrill family member involved. (The O'Farrill clan originally owned the paper and were also longtime shareholders in Televisa.)

As a reporter, I obviously find this delightful news. Let's hope it works out.

UPDATE: Kelly Arthur Garrett, a former reporter and columnist with the Herald, launched a new blog: http://kellyarthurgarrett.blogspot.com where he provided an interesting analysis of what the old Mexico City News was and what the paper could become. To my knowledge, he has no inside scoop on what's going on with the new News, but since he toiled for the old one, his insights are pertinent.

I used to read the News while living in Colima during the winter of 2002. It would arrive around 3 p.m. from Mexico City and was sold at an excellent newsstand in Los Portales, which fronts the Zocalo. I liked the old News, although since my Spanish was pretty sketchy at the time and I wanted something in English, the News fit the bill.

Garrett commented, "Most English-language efforts have chosen -- or been forced — to fill up their pages with whatever they could get their hands on. They’ve had no journalistic purpose other than to be in English."

He added, "For some reason, there's an assumption among media heavies that English speakers, because they are less well-versed about Mexican society, need to read at the level of six-year-olds. Newspapers by definition are published for the common reader, but the common Anglophone reader in Mexico is not necessarily the boob that these publishers think."

Very true. Most editors have no clue what their readers want. As an example, the Guadalajara Colony Reporter, where I worked for 18 months, puts out a hit-or-miss product. Some of its stuff is gold, but the owners truly believe that few, if any, expats living in Mexico (read: Chalapa, Guadalajara and the places the Reporter is sold) have any interest in Mexican affairs. I visit Chapala on a regular basis, and would disagree.

The Herald was read out in the provinces - when people could actually find it. Circulation was a disaster, though. I could quibble about the Herald's editorial faults - mainly in the community pages - but not being able to purchase a Sunday edition on a regular basis in Mexico's second-largest city was an even bigger problem. I wrote for the Herald and found the editors to be genuinely interested in putting out a quality product - even though there were considerable constraints. That's more than could be said for many English papers that simply need to fill pages. If the Herald lacked anything, it was perhaps a stronger personality. (The Reporter has that with some of its columnists and headlines, although it's an editorially-incoherent publication.)

The News is at least gauging what interests its potential audience. Let's hope it succeeds.

3 comments:

David Bodwell said...

I welcome back the Mexico City News. I enjoyed reading it and found the Herald a poor substitute.

I hope they get advertising. Sections specifically for SMA, PV, Mazatlán, Cabo, etc., that have LOTS of advertisers (me, for one),would do better than the "shotgun" approach for national advertisers.

jennifer rose said...

The News, back until the late 80s, was a good newspaper with original coverage. There was a Sunday section, Vistas, which I think Sally Sue Hulse edited, featuring regular columns, some good, some drek, from various parts of Mexico. Morelia's was more a social page than anything else as Montgomery Budd became tired and old. Even the travails of Ted Wick in Taxco and Bert Krause in Cuernavaca were more sophisticated than some of the stuff I've read in the Guadalajara Colony Reporter and Atencion San Miguel. Pete Hammil was EIC for a short period of time. By the time The News died, it was yesterday's news.

Around the mid-80s, there was a fantastic small magazine, something like "Mexico Today" which, IIRC, Michael Zamba edited. That magazine didn't make it to the two-year mark.

Does anyone else remember Anita Brenner's Mexico/This Month, published in the 1950's? Sure, it looks hokey today, but you have to put that within the context of the times.

Today, the Internet makes access to other news sources easy, even if paid access is required. 75% original content should be the minimum. Look at the Buenos Aires Herald as an example.

Staring at Strangers

Joanna said...

I wish I had seen this article several months ago when it was first posted. I was the Merida correspondent from 1980 - 1988. I left the column because of a "time crunch" but loved writing for the paper... If your project to revive "The News" is successful, I would be very interested in getting my "old job" back!
Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado