24 June 2007

Same old lame results

Mexico once again lost an important soccer game to the United States on U.S. soil by dropping the Gold Cup final 2-1. The U.S. advanced to finals only after the Mexican referee in the semi-finals jobbed an upstart Canadian squad, but Mexico looked unimpressive throughout the CONCACAF tournament and probably got an assist from the referee in its quarter-final match against Costa Rica.

Mexico failed to score more than a single goal in any of its matches except for its opener against Cuba. Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez often maligned his predecessor and lobbied openly for the nation team position. Surely he must shoulder a large portion of the blame for his team's performance. And, the U.S. is regularly proving itself the best team in CONCACAF - not that anyone in Mexico would acknowledge that even though the U.S. owns an 9-2-1 advantage since 2000.

Ofensa a Bandera de Mexico en Australia Big Brother

Que tonto!

23 June 2007

Big Brother program offends Mexicans

Few programs in Mexico have been as loathsome as Big Brother, which drew enormous audiences and even convinced a Green Party (PVEM) politician to skip work for six weeks so he could participate in the Mexican version of the reality show.

Now the Australian edition ran afoul of Mexican sensibilities during a poorly-planned Mexican theme episode, during which contestants "dressed in mariachi outfits played musical chairs and ate chili con carne - a dish almost unknown in Mexico - to win points," according to ABC Australia. Even worse "One of the rounds of the game showed a team protecting the Mexican flag against slime balloons thrown by a rival team."

Since Mexicans take their national symbols seriously, this obviously was bound to offend. But Mexicans also indulge stereotypes of other races and nationalities - some offensive, others not - with disturbing regularity.

The Big Brother crew could have at least served a taco buffet instead of chili con carne and perhaps thrown in some sort of tequila drinking game. (The Consejo Regulador de Tequila loves pretty much any foreign publicity.) But throwing slime at a flag?

Hopefully this stupid stunt hastens the demise of all versions of Big Brother.

21 June 2007

No-tell motel installs steel doors

Hotel de paso

The Thunderclap Ranch, a no-tell motel (hotel de paso) in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon, installed steel doors on all of its 34 rooms. Guests now receive extra security and privacy - in addition to a three-hour stay - for 150 pesos. According to the motel's management, "There's a line of cars on Friday and Saturdays." With narco violence flaring in Northern Mexico, the place somehow seems apt.

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.