Tag Archives: journalism

Carlos Slim’s investment in The New York Times

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I’ve never met Mexican Carlos Slim, but he’s ubiquitous in Mexico through his numerous businesses that have made him one of the richest men in the world. He’s also obtaining a larger stake in what is arguably the symbolic heart and soul of U.S. journalism, The New York Times (read a BBC story about it here).

Depending on which side of the spectrum you sit on, Slim is either a shrewd opportunist who obtained his fortune south of the border largely from the kind of political connections that aren’t available to most Mexicans or he’s an astute businessman who exemplifies Mexico’s democratic principles. I assume the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Traditional media isn’t the best investment these days. Just ask real estate magnate Sam Zell who attempted to resuscitate the Tribune Company and then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. So what’s in it for Slim?

This could be a case of Slim seeing a business opportunity. There are other potential payoffs: His investment in The New York Times might recast him as a savior. It also – frankly – makes the paper somewhat indebted to him. Regardless of the motive, Slim’s interest in the Times highlights the troubles of traditional news media and the opportunities for global investors in the United States while raising questions over who will control the news in the future.

To read a business story about Carlos Slim, here is a story in Fortune Magazine by my former Northwestern classmate Stephanie Mehta.

You can also read an opinion piece that ran in The New York Times in 2007 that alludes to Slim as a “robber baron.”

This story posted Jan. 20 on Slate’s website – “Slim’s Pickings” – is a thoughtful piece that handles this tricky subject deftly. It was written by Andres Martinez.

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From Baghdad to Tijuana: A photographer’s perspective

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Photographer Eros Hoagland has been crossing borders as long as I’ve known him, documenting conflict hotspots around the globe in places like Iraq. He has been spending the last few weeks in Tijuana, where I recently caught up with him.

I asked him how Baghdad compares to Tijuana, and here’s what Eros said:

“Many areas of the U.S.- Mexico border are indeed engulfed in a war.  Homicide statics are flying off the charts in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez as rival organized crime groups fight for strategic positioning. But it is largely a war of assassination, much different from Iraq or Afghanistan where protracted insurgencies and terrorist groups are fighting a large, well-equipped military machine.” 

A bit of background: I met Eros while I was freelancing in Nicaragua during that country’s 1996 presidential elections, and we  teamed up a few months later in El Salvador to work on a story about deported Los Angeles gang members. Since then, Eros has spent significant time in Iraq, Colombia, Eritrea, Guatemala, Peru and El Salvador, which is where his photographer father was gunned down  in the 1980s while covering the conflict for Newsweek.

In between the freelance gigs with organizations such as The New York Times, Eros has been working on a project that involves documenting border “lines.” Beyond the obvious one – the border fence – Eros sees lines, angles and intersections in less conspicuous places: The glass shards from a violent attack, for example, or in the creases of worry etched in a forehead. In doing so, he captures the fine lines that separate us while revealing our shared humanity. 

To see more of Eros’ work, go here.

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Brozo journalism

North of the border, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert deliver the news with their trademark deadpan style of humor. In Mexico, there’s Brozo the clown, played by Victor Trujillo, who injects bawdy insinuations into his unrestrained weekly analysis of the country’s top stories.

Being familiar with Spanish is no guarantee you will catch all the double entendrees in this show. One of the show’s guests, a bird sock puppet, is apparently a veiled reference to Brozo’s own male anatomy. Brozo’s other helpers include a priest, a robot, a soldier, and a sexy female reporter who sings and gyrates at the end of her interviews.

One recent show touched on the political fallout from twelve people being trampled to death during a botched law enforcement operation in a Mexico City club. There was also a segment of man-on-the-street interviews about what kind of herbs or foods eliminate erectile dysfunction. You get the picture.

Brozo’s latest Televisa news-comedy show is called El NotiFiero, which airs Friday nights in Tijuana. Here’s a video clip of Brozo and here’s a 2002 story by The New York Times.