What a difference a year makes, the saying goes.
Well, if you’d found me this time around about a year ago, you would’ve witnessed a panicked, stressed out man, desperately attempting to wrangle together 16 pages at short notice, in a last-ditch attempt not to miss a print deadline.
This year... well... I’m afraid I’m doing exactly the same thing again. (Speak to any editor and they’ll always tell you the same: it always goes down the wire. We can’t help ourselves. I think maybe it’s something to do with the adrenaline...)
It was one year ago (well almost, September 2, in fact) that we launched the first edition of the Buenos Aires Times and to celebrate, this weekend we are printing a special anniversary edition dedicated to one subject: the crisis facing the media industry.
For some, this decision may seem a little strange given the events of the last seven days. And yes, admittedly, it’s been a week where the headlines have been made by currency, Cristina, calls from protesters to protect public education and clashes on Paseo Colón.
“Why? Where’s my normal paper?” you, or the crippling voice of selfdoubt in my head, may be asking right now. Well, two reasons really, if you’ll allow me to explain.
First, in a world where circulation numbers and sales are dropping, with social media and ‘fake news’ on the rise and Big Tech companies swallowing up advertising revenues, the media industry – both in Argentina and beyond – is most definitely in crisis.
This is a subject worthy of our time and it’s a theme that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the past 12 months. I am hugely grateful to have this post and this position, which is as enjoyable as it is challenging, and many of my peers remain out of work (many are still awaiting their redundancy packages too). Put succintly, I am one of the lucky ones.
Second, I’m a stickler for tradition. The existence of our humble newspaper, as I’ve outlined before, is a consequence of the closure of the Buenos Aires Herald, my former employer. (Indeed, many of this year’s editions have carried the strapline: ‘Tributo de diario Perfil al Buenos Aires Herald.’) To that end, I’ve decided to look to that newspaper again for inspiration with this weekend’s special edition. You see each year, on its own anniversary, the Herald would dedicate an entire supplement to one theme, inviting columnists, reporters and graphic designers to contribute to a deeper look at an important issue. It was a moment to take stock, to look at an issue in a wider context, to pose questions and perhaps supply a few answers. Frankly, I like that idea so much, I’ve decided to steal, sorry, borrow it.
For any organisation, company, even relationship – let alone a new, fledgling, young media outlet – reaching the first year of anything is a landmark. But this Saturday, rather than just celebrate our own existence in this challenging landscape before us, I wanted to turn the spotlight around and focus it on the rest of our peers in the media and the industry at large.
Setting up a newspaper from scratch wasn’t easy. but I am proud of what we’ve produced over these last 12 months, on a limited budget with little to no advertising to back it up. Of course, not everything has gone to plan and there have been a few slip-ups and typos along the way, yet I am proud to lead a newspaper that, unlike many others in Argentina and beyond, is not defined by ideology or pre-conceived notions. For me, this is what newspapers should stand for. They are places for discussion, for debate, for the challenging of and, in some cases, confirmation of ideas. I hope to uphold those ideals as much as I can.
Finally, a huge, giant, enormous thank you to writers, columnists and, especially, our readers for their support, appreciation, kind words and criticism over the past 12 months. It is most humbling. Gracias.
Oh, and don’t worry. Back to business as normal next week. Promise.