Previously, you were
the managing editor of the Mexico City Times. What happened to
It's a long story for those of us who were involved in it. I
lasted from before the launch to the second anniversary, more
or less, but the work got harder all the time because of constant
reductions in the editorial budget. After I and most of the others
left, it struggled on with a skeleton staff for about two more
years before it was closed. The basic problem was a lack of a
sound business strategy.
How do you select the news items that appear in Palapa?
I only have about three hours to do this, so it's not necessarily
very scientific. When several papers cover the same story, I generally
kick out those whose stories are written by agency. Not that agency
reports are necessarily bad -- it's just that I reckon that much
of my target audience is likely to have seen what they have to
say. Likewise, I tend to rule out versions written in New York,
Miami or Madrid of events happening in Latin America. And last,
but by no means least, I try to include only those who have something
new or original that day.
What is the difference between national and foreign coverage
National coverage very often suffers from too much detail --
the failure to see the wood from the trees. Likewise, it often
assumes encyclopedic knowledge of the nation's politics and economics.
So much so that probably only about 1 percent of the population
understands what the papers are talking about. As a result, most
Mexican national papers have extremely low circulations.
By contrast, the foreign press often contains a wealth of information
that is superfluous to those of us who follow Mexico closely but
is needed in order to put the general reader in the picture. They
tell us, for example, that most Mexicans are poor or that the
country has recurring financial crises. There's nothing wrong
with that -- it's perfectly correct for the market in question
-- but in Palapa I tend to assume that readers know the basics.
In the past decade, have you spotted any trends in how foreign
papers cover Mexico?
The principal trend is the coincidence of world view of those
in the government and those in the foreign press. Which is not
surprising, since both groups come from essentially the same educational