The decline of newspapers has been widely debated as the industry has faced down soaring newsprint prices, slumping ad sales, the loss of much classified advertising and precipitous drops in circulation. In recent years the number of newspapers slated for closure, bankruptcy or severe cutbacks has risen—especially in the United States, where the industry has shed a fifth of its journalists since 2001.
But in Costa Rica, we have the opposite.
Currently there are at least a half dozen printed daily newspapers on the stand in this small country. La Nacion, Diaro Extra, La Republica, Al Dia, La Prensa Libre and La Teja are the big ones. In addition there are the weeklys, like El Financierio and the Semanario Universidad.
The majority of are by the Grupo Nacion, which today launched even yer another, Ahora.
Ahora holds itself to be a different kinds of newspaper.
At first glance, the format is different. Not your traditional tabloid layout, it is modern and easy to read (or at least scan the headlines).
Guiselly Mora, the paper’s director, says in her message that she and her group of 15 will strive to print “the news that you can use.” So, if this is news we can use, what is all the other news about?
While television and the internet has been eroding the advertising income of newspapers
Internationally newspaper industry has always been cyclical, and the industry has weathered previous storms. In Costa Rica, however, it is going strong.
Television and the internet was supposed to be the nail on the coffin of newspapers, bringing news to the consumer faster and in a more visual style than newspapers.
In Costa Rica, however, newspapers flourish, hitting records sales at the newsstands. And I know why.
Take Diario Extra, the self proclaimed “most” sold newspaper in the country and La Teja, for instance. Both every day publish photos of scantily clad women (sometimes men, to appease to the female audience). The Diaro Extra is well known for its gore, publishing photos of accident victims lying in a pool a blood, with a white sheet draped over them. Sometimes you can make out body parts in the mangled metal wreck of a vehicle.
Meanwhile, you can’t do that on the internet. The almighty Google polices websites for content and a gory picture or anything with an above normal amount of flesh is no-no.
If you are a Google adsense publisher you will be asked to remove the content or risk ad servings. Anything outside the “morality” of Google will get you at the bottome of the search engine results. I can’t prove it, but it happens.
My own publications QCostarica.com and TodayCostarica.com have been served notice by Google censors on several accounts of policy violations, for containing “violent or disturbing content”, “sexual content” and “links to adult sites”.
The reason, I can only assumes is that my current and previous news publications reach a wide North American – mostly U.S. – audience. And up there violent or disturbing content and sexual content, like my daily Erotica photos, are taboo. Over the years I have gotten emails from readers about this type of content.
So, while print publications in North America line up to close, in Costa Rica, they are adding more. Makes me believe that I am on to something. Or many not. What do I know?