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What’s a Newspaper for, Anyway?



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In a non-election-related item, the Houston Chronicle, Texas’s second-largest paper, is no longer covering Mexico, having closed its bureau there. Now, I know papers have had to cut costs by closing foreign bureaus, but we’re not talking about the Mongolia bureau, or even the Paris bureau. This is a Texas paper — the 11th-largest in the nation, 4th-largest on Sundays — deciding not to cover the huge, next-door nation, overflowing with news of critical importance to Texans. And the bureau didn’t even cost that much, usually consisting of one veteran reporter working out of his home. Apparently the suits wanted the paper “to go intensely local, focusing on a 100-mile radius of Houston.” Mapquest tells me that Austin, the state capital, is 165 miles from Houston, so are they going to stop covering the state legislature, too? Hey, maybe it’ll work, but it doesn’t seem likely; if all you want is coupons and high-school-football scores, you don’t need a newspaper at all.

And this is really part of a larger trend of pretending Mexico doesn’t exist. I don’t mean that we should strive for regional integration and the North American Union — I’m against all that. But we had a whole presidential debate on foreign policy without the very name of Mexico being uttered, even though what happens there is exponentially more important that anything that has ever happened in Libya or Mali or Afghanistan.



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