Monday, March 10, 2008

 

A Ragbag of Mags


In our small corner of enchantment there are more and more newspapers (or rather, ‘free sheets’) than you can shake a pair of nine euro farmacia spectacles at. Besides our own The New Entertainer, the eponymous Weenie, the Sol Times and Sol News, The Messenger, The Advertiser, the (sometimes) Talismán, The Satellite Monthly, the 89.8, the Focus, Lifestyle, The Post and the one euro ten cent Costa de Almería News... In these times of recession, when everyone must tighten their belt a notch or two, we welcome some brand new mags such as The Seaside Gazette and The Sentinella into the stable. And, blimey, here’s another one: the Community Times Mojacar! Here, move over a bit and we should all fit in...
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. There are the various Spanish titles including our own El Indálico... along with Actualidad Almanzora, The Noticias and a few others, plus of course various in-house property mags, outhouse property mags, sundry one-offs, imprints, oddities and commercial leaflets, pamphlets, flyers, posters, stickers, booklets, maps, planos and listings, together with a clutch of radios, endless web-pages, billboards and other material, all designed to ease the odd shilling out of the customer’s purse.
No wonder the accordionists left – they couldn’t stand the competition.
A hundred different commercial propositions to help get yourself known - plus the fellow with the airplane who flies up and down the beach towing a sheet with a message written on it behind him.
Don’t knock it - it works for Coca Cola!
Curiously, this plethora of material, with purple prose very much in evidence, once away from the pirated Internet material, is surprisingly coy on local affairs. There is some coverage of local news, either collected professionally as with the Costa de Almería News, or written up as, for example, in The Messenger, recalled as in The Advertiser or the Gazette, or randomly translated in toto (as in The Weenie). Some make no mention of the area at all, which makes one wonder how much fun they’re having…
One glossy mag is particularly disappointing: it could highlight this area with good photographs and timeless reportage (people don’t throw away glossies), but concentrates exclusively on lipstick and crow’s feet. Advertisers, meanwhile, place their promotions in the strangest places. I mean, fair’s fair: if they are watching SKY TV, then they already have a home. Right?
There are two mags that provide full listings of local businesses (Focus and 89.8) but not all local business. In the Focus (open in front of me), I find phone numbers for everything from bouncing castles to tattoo artists via radio stations (seven listed) but no mention, oddly, for mags and newspapers. It seems that solidarity is not in general supply in the world of publishing – in fact, this article excluded, you will rarely find mention of this particular cottage industry that is sweeping the English-speaking coast and hinterland of Almería. What is the reader to think?

The reader? These magazines aren’t for the reader!

The customer for all these endeavours, in broad strokes, is the local business, bar, shop, restaurant, builder, gardener, phone company, SKY provider, realtor, agent, second-hand car dealer, doctor, dentist and candlestick maker. He’s the one on the sharp end. Yes, of course advertising pays: but you can’t put your message in all the options available. In fact, how do you choose? By what’s popularly read or by who’s the first salesperson who catches you.
I sometimes wonder - does the owner quake slightly as the door-bell goes? Does a small drop of sweat dribble down his shoulder-blades as a nice looking girl holding a carpeta shimmers up to his desk? I mean - customers don’t smile that much! When the phone rings, is it the wife saying to come home for lunch, the bank manager who wants to talk about the mortgage or could it be someone in telesales sat in a smoky office in Albox who wants to flog a quarter-page next to some Tommy Cooper jokes for just half price?


Comments:
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