Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Worth Reading Again: The Buenos Aires Herald

Dating from 1876, the English-language Buenos Aires Herald has an illustrious history - never more so than in the Dirty War days of 1976-83, when it outspokenly exposed the brutality of the military dictatorship that ran Argentina during those years. While it had the advantage of publishing in a foreign language that relatively few Argentines read, it also published its editorials in Spanish, and both editor Robert Cox and his associate Andrew Graham-Yooll had to flee into exile because of death threats to themselves and their families. Cox’s successor James Neilson, still a columnist today, moved his family across the river to Uruguay.

In less contentious times, the Herald has lost some of that edge, but it still provides a good critical analysis of Argentine politics, labor, and society for non-Spanish speakers. Graham-Yooll, who still contributes to the paper on occasion, is also a literary journalist and novelist capable of interviewing Gabriel García Márquez in Spanish and translating his work flawlessly into English. The current staff is not so thoroughly bilingual, and attentive readers will notice linguistic eccentricities, such as occasional false cognates and Spanish-language syllabification.

More importantly for overseas residents and potential visitors, the Herald’s acquisition by the financial daily Ámbito Financiero has meant an infusion of cash that’s allowed it to improve its website dramatically, with most of the content now available online after 2 p.m. Argentine time daily. The Sunday edition has an excellent summary of the week’s events by columnist Martín Gambarotta, and there is also improved coverage of food, wine, nightlife, and travel.

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