Greetings dear reader and welcome to the first edition of the Buenos Aires Times, a new weekly 16-page publication that you will find inside your copy of Perfil, every Saturday. In lieu of a first editorial speaking as the voice of this new, fledgling newspaper (it seems a little early to start giving our opinion), I thought it better to write to you, the reader, directly.
The practice of journalism, of reporting the news, has changed drastically in recent years, both in terms of how it is carried out and how the news finds it way to a reader. The situation is common knowledge: print outlets are gradually disappearing from the landscape and most media groups are searching for business models that work in the 24/7 digital environment. They are most certainly not investing in print.
But today, as the seasons begin to change and the first days of Spring arrive, Editorial Perfil embarks upon a new path and tentatively places its foot into the wide waters of English-language journalism — a first for this media group — with this humble offering.
So let us now address the elephant in the room. Why would anyone wish to set up a new outlet in this unforgiving media market? Why would anyone choose to launch a new project — a foreign-language project no less — in this troubled, desolate (and might I add global) landscape of shifting advertising spends, cuts to staffing levels, social media dominance and migrating readers?
The answer is simple. We believe Argentina needs an English-language newspaper. Not just for those here that speak English, but also for those beyond the borders of this beautiful country who seek to learn more about what lies within.
For this newspaper too it is about community. We believe there is a space for us in this market. We believe we can offer our readers an informative, challenging product that approaches the news in a way that rejects the polarised nature of political debate in this country. We aspire not to tie ourselves to one group or another but to be critical. That will be our default stance and we will seek to apply that position to all of our journalism, whether addressing politics, economics or even sports.
The media landscape in Argentina is also responsible for the establishment of this new outlet. At the turn of the last month, this country lost one of the longest-serving members of press club, the Buenos Aires Herald, the famous English-language newspaper which ceased printing after 141 years of publishing. That decision, taken by the historic publication’s owners, Grupo Indalo, prompted dismay among many of its readers and the wider English-speaking community in Argentina and Latin America at large.
It is no exaggeration to say that those of us who had worked at the Herald, like myself, were touched by the outpouring of love, support and testimonials that appeared in print, online and on social networks, expressing disappointment at the decision to pull down the shutters on a paper that had such a deep and personal impact on so many lives. Those sentiments, however, also prompted a reaction, the result of which you now hold in your hand.
However, it would be incorrect of us to claim ownership of the Herald or its wider community of dedicated, loyal readers. Trust should be earned, not loaned or claimed. This publication is not, and will not be, the Buenos Aires Herald. Yet we want to acknowledge here publicly that we seek to follow firmly in its footsteps, continuing its long tradition of human rights coverage and informing a community we feel is of great importance to Argentina’s past, present and future.
Perhaps, given the developments of the past year or so, we should also place ourselves in a global context. The Buenos Aires Times will seek to look out to the world, to erode boundaries not erect them. We shall not seek to become an echo-chamber of related views, but to be a public house for the discussion of ideas and opposing views.
If we may be so bold, perhaps we may also serve as a word of encouragement to those who find themselves disheartened by the disappearance of something they had invested themselves in, whether that be the closure of an institution they admired, the passing on of a loved one or the departing of a president for whom they voted for. Sometimes being bold enough to cross the rubicon is a victory in itself, of advancement over inactivity.
My father was an editor and he worked for the same newspaper for almost 40 years. He instilled in me the notion that a newspaper was much more than its printed pages. That a publication is as much about its community and the readers who consume it as it is the news. Continuity and community matters. Some may argue that that idea is a little out-dated in today’s world, but I don’t think so.
Time will tell if this little endeavour of ours will work, but in the meantime, we thank you for joining us. We are here to serve you, dear reader.