English Newspaper Hits Streets of Mexico, Pledging Independence
English language newspaper The News hit the streets of Mexico City today after a five year hiatus.
Its directors have promised a more independent tone this time around. In its prior incarnation The News kept its head under the parapet, preferring to keep its advertisers and powerful readers happy rather than rocking the boat.
Victor Hugo O’Farrill Ávila, owner and chairman of The News, said in the opening pages of today’s edition that the aim of the newspaper is to be ‘constructive and serious’, as his grandfather said some 60 years ago when launching the original form of the title in 1950.
But John Moody, chief executive of the paper, was much more bullish when he spoke to MexicoReporter.com a couple of weeks ago.
“I think that we’re going to be the only newspaper in Mexico that sells its readers and not paper and ink. I’m at the service of my readers and not my advertisers.”
In a swipe at the current lack of financial and editorial independence within most of Mexico’s mainstream daily and weekly news publications, Moody said that the title intended to report without bias.
“My space is not for sale editorially in any way shape or form and I would venture to say that makes me unique in Mexico.”
How The News handles the powers in Mexican society in its pages will be interesting to watch. Violence against journalists in Mexico is at an all time high, and the Government is reportedly one of the main perpetrators of attacks and intimidation against media works, according to Article 19.
Titles such as Proceso, a weekly news magazine, and the daily newspaper la Jornada suffer financially for their critical tone. The Government – one of the biggest advertisers in the market – withholds ads from such titles and commercial companies are also wary of being seen in newspapers and magazines that criticize the powers that be.
“I’m not giving my editor Tom Buckley an editorial line," says Moody.
"Which means the owners aren’t giving me one. The line I’ve given my editor and will enforce is that everything that is published be of use or of interest to my readers. So we’re not going to avoid themes or favor any political party and I think it’s going to be a mix.
“What I’m trying to create is a professional newspaper with an independent editorial line and I think Mexico is ready for it,” said Moody.
The daily newspaper is aimed at the 1.5 million people in Mexico who speak English. It is the only English-speaking newspaper in the country and enters a sparsely populated market. The only other national English-language title in the country is Inside Mexico, a monthly magazine. Their editorial is lifestyle, travel and literature rather than news.
Moody was buoyant in his expectations for the newspaper, which he claims confidently will be the best in Mexico and ‘the Carlsberg of newspapers.’
The advertising market, usually skeptical about new launches and burnt by the spate of English newspapers which have tried and failed to succeed in Mexico, has responded better than expected according to Moody.
“The average income of my readers is higher than the average income of any other newspaper in Mexico,” he explains.
The first edition however, is rather light on ads, with a spot for a residential club on page 15, a whole page ad for Mexico’s biggest bank Bancomer and a whole page in the sports section for Jeep watches.
The design is neat and modern, and rather resembles the newly designed Guardian in the UK. Big colour photos adorn its pages and original content mixes with news and features from Bloomberg, the Associated Press and the New York Times.