Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Trees. Won't somebody please think of the trees?

We were working on the subscriptions the other day, sat on the floor and covered in stickies. The most mundane and boring job of the whole lot – printing up those awful fiddly little sticky labels (that don’t like printers), wrapping up and putting on the right addresses to just under a thousand newspapers. If you don’t believe me you can ask the postmaster. Our Spanish paper, El Indálico, covers local events and runs a small stable of some good writers with insights into local events. Our English paper, The New Entertainer, does something similar. The Indálico has been going for about eight years, The Entertainer (in its current incarnation) for about four.
It’s probably not very impressive to a reader to know that we have that many subscriptions, but it certainly is to the other editors around here. They have no subscribers at all – who wants to read regurgitated stuff pulled off the internet or to check on old TV schedules?
One of the functions of a newspaper is to find its way into the historical library run by the local community – in this case, the hemeroteca of the diputación de Almería. We are the only local ‘free ones’ you’ll find there.
That’s right – one day some fellow will write his dissertation on us lot.
I was thinking about this again today as I saw some recognizable brand-name stuck within the mishmash of a truly dire looking rag, with a complete lack of form, lay-out, presentation or – probably – decent print run. Yea, yea, I know – it wuz ‘cheap’.
But, with the exception of the Carpet Baggers buying a new Porsche in Stuttgart on the back of their advertisers, the rest of us give you more or less the same deal. Cheaper means ‘less copies’ and no proper writing. Some adverts are going for fifteen euros. What kind of message are they signaling? Pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. No art or literature here. More expensive means ‘better distribution’, ‘more copies’, ‘better sales’. It doesn’t mean ‘greed’ (except for the above-mentioned louts). For local advertising, the distinction is important, which is why none of us gets ‘Lamboughini’ adverts.
If you are an advertiser, you should be taking a vicarious pride in the medium where your business is presented. After all, you are partly paying for its production and costs. And on the other side of the fence, if you like or support that medium, then support their advertisers – choose them first!
I have to raise this subject because it’s getting quite ridiculous. There are more free English language newspapers and magazines, TV listings, phone listings, plus radios, websites, flyers, one-offs and oddities, than you can shake a stick at. All with their sales-crews rattling off numbers, statistics, exaggerations and absurdities. One newspaper says it distributes in Carboneras and Agua Amarga. No. Our two editions are the only ones that go there. We are the only ones that bother to tool up to Mojácar pueblo for that matter. Between our reputation, our distribution, our content and our subscription list, we are the best known and best respected local newspapers around here. We have lived here the longest and know the area the best. We shall be here next month, next year.
Probably still doing the bloody subscriptions one night a month, two or three of us sat on the floor with a bottle of wine and some classical music playing in the background.

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