The Buenos Aires Herald is one of those newspapers that, by the grace of God, simply must continue existing no matter what horrors befall the newspaper industry as a whole. Finding up-to-date information on Argentina, in English, can be exceptionally frustrating and I had the Sunday version of the paper sent to me in New York every week; perfect reading for the train ride into work. Martin Gambarotta’s “Politics & Labour” column has to be one of the most informative and well-written political columns in any English-speaking newspaper. I also enjoyed the paid announcements section, informing readers of golf tournaments in aid of the Hospital Británico, meetings of the British-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, and when the next convocation of the South America Piping Association would be held. That said, when the Herald started denominating their subscription fee in dollars instead of pesos, I had to call it quits — though very reluctantly.
All the time while perusing the newspaper, however, I kept thinking “This could be better…”. Readers know how design-obsessed I am, especially when it comes to newspapers, and the Buenos Aires Herald would be such a better newspaper if they just tweaked a few things: a more judicious font choice, standardized white-spaces between columns, a few meliorations here and there. But now they’ve gone and redesigned the thing — without seeking the input of this devoted fan! — and they’ve got it all wrong.
The Herald is over one-hundred-and-thirty years old, but aside from the retention of its traditional nameplate, the redesign makes it look like a free daily handed out to commuters in a second-rate American city. Sans-serif typefaces? Good grief! This is the newspaper of record of Argentina’s long-surviving English-speaking community, and should look it too. Now, it just looks Floridian. Which is ironic because the paper’s American owners — The Evening Post Company of South Carolina — divested themselves of the Herald in 2007 to Grupo 23, who in turn sold the paper on to AmFin SA. Now, it’s nice that this old friend of a newspaper is finally being given some attention after years of neglect, but you musn’t dress an old lady as a young tart.
Thank God they haven’t gotten rid of Martin Gambarotta, at least. But Herald old-timer Andrew Graham-Yooll, who first joined the paper in 1966 and who literally wrote the book on Anglo-Argentina, is out. (He’s now employed as ombudsman over at Perfil). On the plus side, the website has been given a thorough doing-over and is much improved, with more content available to non-subscribers than previously.
So, as most things are these days, a mixed bag. It may be a little uglier in its print version, but as long as the Buenos Aires Herald maintains its standard of informative but succinct reporting, I shall be a happy fan.