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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

One of the last English-language newspapers in Latin America, The Buenos Aires Herald to close after 140 years



The Buenos Aires Herald, the Argentine capital’s English-language newspaper, is closing after 140 years in print.

Twitter photo celebrating The Buenos Aires Herald’s 140 anniversary

The newspaper made the announcement via Twitter on July 31, just less than one year after it, Latin America’s oldest English-language daily, transitioned to a weekly publication and a majority of its employees lost their jobs.

News editor James Grainger wrote on Twitter, “There’s not much to say right now to be honest. We have been told the last edition was this Friday’s. No more to add at this point.”

When the paper transitioned to a weekly publication, it wrote in an editorial, “The Herald has been facing difficulties for a while now and though our future incarnation has been painted as a new challenge and an exciting offering to the market, it would be foolish to deny that such a dramatic change comes at a huge cost, or that it also reflects a media industry in crisis.”

It also highlighted that “modifications to government-paid advertising, its distribution and the recession are exacerbating the changes at a rapid pace” in Argentina.

The Herald began as a single-sheet, weekly paper at its founding by Scottish immigrant William Cathcart in 1876, according to the publication’s website. Over the years, the paper transitioned to a more daily publishing schedule, and also changed owners and editors who played roles in political negotiations and who were targets of government repression, the site explained.

British journalist Robert Cox was editor of the Herald during the years of the country’s “Dirty War” (1976-1983), and is now regarded for his criticism of the regime and work to uncover human rights abuses, including forced disappearances. Cox, who received the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 1978, was forced into exile in the U.S. due to this coverage.

"I was often asked in Argentina how it was that the Buenos Aires Herald, a small foreign-language newspaper, was able to report in English and comment in Spanish on topics that were never mentioned in the Argentine press. Argentine journalists had two theories: That we were supported by the U.S. Embassy and that, as a foreign-language newspaper, we had immunity," Cox wrote in the forward to his biography "Dirty Secrets, Dirty War." "Neither was true. What we did have was respect for the Herald's traditional independence and unqualified support from Peter Manigault, president and publisher of the Charleston, S.C.-based Evening Post Publishing Company, which owned the newspaper. He simply wanted us to do our job and report the truth. That was the difference between the Herald and the mainline Argentine press. They were accomplices of the dictatorship. The Herald was not."

After the announcement that The Herald would close for good, Carlos Cué, El País correspondent in Buenos Aires, wrote “For the journalists and the fighters for Argentine human rights, the Buenos Aires Herald was a myth. So its final closure, announced on Monday after 140 years of taking to the streets without interruption, was a hard blow.”

As he noted, it was the only newspaper that denounced, on a daily basis, the State terrorism that disappeared thousands during the military dictatorship.

“The Herald showed the importance of journalism in difficult times. Now in the U.S., with Trump, we see that it is key. In Argentina, there are very good journalists, but the problem is the owners. The Herald made good journalism to the end, but had bad owners,” Cox said, according to Cué.

Cué argued that the “beginning of the end” for the publication occurred when it was no longer in foreign hands that provided it independence. He explained how the paper was purchased by owners close to the Kirchners, the former presidents of Argentina.

News outlet Clarín noted that current owner and majority owner of Grupo Indalo, businessman Cristóbal López, closed the paper “in line with the reduction and adjustment facing all media that are part of Grupo Indalo.”



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