Opinión: Patrick O’Heffernan
Five hundred editions. This week, Semanario Laguna is printing edition number 500, a major milestone for the paper and for independent journalism.
Over the past ten years the founders of Semanario Laguna, Domingo Flores and D. Arturo Ortega, have – by hook and crook – taken a weekly broadsheet with a few hundred readers to the largest and most popular newspaper in Lakeside, plus an online media empire with a website, Facebook page, twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp feeds, and now, local news in English.
More than 420 newspapers and 1,600 magazines are published in Mexico. But publishing is not easy here; over 40 newspapers, some going back to 1812, have gone under, victims of the shift of advertising online and rising production costs. Many of the papers still in print have been around only a few years as the newspaper business is very difficult and small papers in Mexico (and elsewhere) are usually undercapitalized ventures started by journalists who want to make a difference, not necessarily a profit.
Which describes Semanario Laguna– independent, high quality local journalism dedicated to making Lakeside a great place for both Mexicans and Expats. In the two years I have volunteered with Semanario Laguna, as a photographer and then a reporter and now as English Language Editor, I have been inspired with that dedication.
I have been inspired by the staff on Thursday print deadline nights hang in there until the ner hours of Friday morning to get the paper out on time. I have seen the publisher hand deliver newspapers, walking house to house when there weren’t enough delivery people to get it to eager readers on time. I have seen reporters wait for their pay until advertisers handed over cash days late. I have seen (and helped) the leadership team produce an art sale to pay off inherited debt so it would not be a drag on cash flow.
But most impressive, I have seen Laguna’s problems solved one by one as the team – publisher, editors, reporters, sales, digital staff, paper boys and girls – converged into a forward-looking, topnotch news organization. I have watched staff members take on new challenges and new roles and excel. I have watched young reporters – especially the women of Semanario Laguna – mature into seasoned journalists who inspired me to up my game.
I am also inspired by the team of Expat volunteers who have stepped forward to bring Lakeside Expats the local news in English. Every week they translate and rewrite stories for American and Canadian (and German and French and…) readers. They give up Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays to produce the stories you read online. And while they do it, they ask questions and find answers so the stories they give you are accurate and true to the original Spanish, even when language and idioms and context are confusing.
So 500 editions of independent, local news — and that is just the beginning. Stay tuned.