Thursday, October 17, 2019
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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 20-07-2019 08:42

Commemoration, contemplation and celebration

Today’s edition of the Buenos Aires Times, our 100th, is designed to honour and pay tribute to the late, great Andrew Graham-Yooll, a fantastic writer and journalist who has graced our pages over the past two years.

Greetings dear reader and thank you for joining us. It was a just a couple of weekends ago that we were struck by the sad news that the late, great Andrew Graham-Yooll had passed away in London. Today’s edition of the Buenos Aires Times, our 100th, is designed to honour and pay tribute to this brilliant, influential and courageous journalist, a fantastic writer whose words and presence we were lucky enough to have grace our pages on many occasions over the past two years.

Like most, Andrew was someone that I knew of well before meeting him. It’s almost an understatement to say his reputation preceded him, given his standing in the world of journalism and his achievements. Occasionally, over the years, I would bump into him at events and share a drink. In my mind, I associate him with his hearty chuckle and asthma-tinged laugh.

It was only in the last few years that I got to spend some time with him and get to know him a little. When we set up the Times, at very short notice, he was one of the first to agree to contribute each week. I will forever be thankful for that.

I was desperate to have him onboard, not only because of his writing and his reputation, but also for his knowledge about Argentine history and the British community here. I was seeking columnists with perspective, who could put things in context and link the past, present and the future – while also telling a few funny stories along the way. It was a great support to know I had his backing.

In recent years, we often exchanged emails about his columns and then, every Wednesday, a piece would arrive in my inbox, punctual as you like. Then I had the pleasure of editing him.

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about what to do for our 100th edition. I couldn’t come up with an idea I liked, no matter how hard I tried. I had almost settled on the idea of doing a regular newspaper, yet switching out the editorial for ‘A letter from the editor,’ as I did in our first edition, to explain and assess what we’ve done over the last two years. But then, Andrew passed away in London and I found myself writing his obituary, which was a strange feeling to say the least.

I don’t intend to repeat that article here and I am most certainly not the person to tell you about Andrew’s accomplishments and achievements. There are plenty of people more qualified to do that, plenty who knew him more deeply than I did – there are even people who owe their lives to his actions. So I decided to try and find as many friends and former colleagues as I could.

This edition does not recall all of Andrew’s life and it does not attempt to do so. Instead it seeks to tell you a little what kind of person he was.

We asked a number of people who had worked or known him for years to share their experiences, to share their stories, their anecdotes, their memories. And that is what we present to you today as our 100th edition, in tribute to this titan of journalism.

It is impossible to know a person in every way. I’m sure many readers will have their own stories to tell too, as undoubtedly will his loved ones and family members.

But as I say, this is not an authoritative account of his life. It is merely a humble addition to the world of Andrew Graham-Yooll, to help us remember him a little more vividly in the years to come.

Argentine journalism has had it’s fair share of giants over the years. Unfortunately, it has lost another great son.

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Speaking of legends of the press, there’s a few special thank yous I should dole out given we’ve reached a century of editions, especially to our former Herald stalwarts, namely Robert Cox, James Neilson, Michael Soltys and, of course, Andrew. They all lent us their support in our earliest days at a crucial time.

I would also like to thank the nucleus of us that produce the paper each week – Agustino Fontevecchia, Joaquín Temes and the aforementioned Michael – and the team at Editorial Perfil SA.

I would also like to takt this opportunity to thank all the journalists and writers that have contributed to our pages to date. There are too many of you to list, but you all know who you are. All of you have helped shape our publication and its identity in some way.

And finally, I just want to say thank you to my family, who have put up with me working too many hours. Without their flexibility, support, love and inspiration, it would be impossible to put together this publication.

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On a personal note, this week I’ve thought back a little to those hazy days after the closure of the Buenos Aires Herald, when my wife and I (along the other staff who worked there) were contemplating the fact of being jobless and figuring what the hell we were going to do now.

It was a strange time, and although there was concern over what lie ahead, my overwhelming feeling was anger at the way that legendary newspaper had been neglected and allowed to fall so far.

Just a few afternoons on, I received a call and agreed to take a gamble. Now, almost two years later, there is a huge pile of newspapers on the desk next to me and a website that’s serving news to the public seven days a week.

It would be remiss to say that it has not been a struggle, though. Gaining an audience – and retaining it – is difficult enough, let alone attempting to grow and attract new readers from a base of zero. But over the past 12 months, however, we have put out 99 editions that have been seen by more than 20,000 people each week. More than 600,000 people have visited our website over the last year and we’ve recorded more than 2.7 million page views since July last year. And we’ve done it all with practically no budget, whatsoever. Without paying for a single advertisement.

When we decided to first start this publication, I told my wife I thought we’d last 10 editions. Today, one month shy of two years on, there is now a 100th edition of the Buenos Aires Times.

Whichever way you paint it, in Argentina’s troubled and increasingly shrinking media market, I guess just surviving is a victory in a way.

Thank you for reading over the past 23 months. We hope you continue to do so. Here’s (hopefully) to 100 more.

Yours sincerely,

James Grainger

Editor-in-Chief

buenosairestimes@perfil.com

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James Grainger

James Grainger

Editor-in-Chief, Buenos Aires Times.

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