Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Risen From the Dead? The Buenos Aires Times Supplants the Herald

At the end of July, the venerable Buenos Aires Herald surprised me—and lots of other people—by shutting down after printing and posting one last Saturday edition without so much as a formal farewell. Shortly thereafter, I wrote my own mini-obituary of the paper, but I soon heard reports of a resurrection.
It didn’t take long. This past Saturday saw the first edition of the Buenos Aires Times, a 16-page English-language supplement within the weekends-only tabloid Perfil, and many of the Herald’s old familiar names were on board—most notably Robert Cox, candidly explaining the complexities of the paper’s not-so-sudden decline and demise after 141 years in print. Perfil’s Executive director Agustino Fontevecchia argues, meanwhile, that it’s time for a “strong, English-language publication" in Argentina, “relying on both the traditional techniques of print and the advanced tools of the digital era.”
Patagonia's long and meandering Río Santa Cruz, under threat from a pair of hydroelectric dams, is a featured topic in the first issue of the Buenos Aires Times.
The first also included critical and analytical pieces on topics such as controversial dams on Patagonia’s largest wild river, prospects for the Argentine economy, and significant news stories from around Latin America. Contributors included former Herald editors Andrew Graham-Yooll and Carolina Barros, and senior editor Michael Soltys.

All things considered, the Times’s rollout was stunningly quick, and there’s some evidence that it was rushed. For all that, there’s a reassuring familiarity starting with the paper’s masthead, which is virtually identical to the Herald—almost to the point of wondering whether there could be copyright issues. The story fonts, however, appear rather different.
Many if not most porteños get their print news fix from corner kiosks.

Maybe it’s partly print nostalgia but, when I return to Buenos Aires in November, I’ll be looking forward to waking up on Saturday morning, walking to the corner kiosk and purchasing Perfil—with its BA Times insert—to read with my breakfast. My only concern is that, with its aging staff—many are in their sixties and seventies, and Bob Cox is 83—the paper will have to recruit younger talent to survive.

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