The Buenos Aires Herald started small in 1876. Argentina’s English-language newspaper debuted as a one-page daily devoted to shipping news. It ended, 141 years later, late this July, as a weekly, having given up on daily publication 9 months before it closed. Its staff had shrunk to 7 people. Ashes to ashes, printers ink to dust you might say.
But one living cliché of the news business is “once a hero, always a hero,” and for most of the 1970s, during one of the darkest periods of Argentine history, the Buenos Aires Herald performed heroically, reporting on the disappearances and murders being committed by the security forces of the military dictatorship that had tossed out the elected President Isabel Martinez de Peron. This is a story, the Herald’s Spanish-language competitors were ignoring, silenced by fear of punishment by the dictatorship/
Sometimes the mere publication of a disappeared person’s name could shame the military state into letting that person reappear alive. Sometimes those disclosures subjected the then-editor of the Herald Robert Cox to arrest and imprisonment, and produced death threats against his family that eventually drove Cox to flee the country.
But for 3 years, The Buenos Aires Herald’s reporting saved lives or provided a kind of bitter closure for lives it was too late to save. When word went out that the Herald was shutting down, the paper, and the former editor were showered in letters of thanks for heroic actions now almost 40 years in the past.
In an epitaph that proclaims both pride and sorrow, the Herald’s last editor, Sebastián Lacunza summed up its ending: “the Herald,” he said, “was more loved than read.”
The Herald’s disappearance is little more than a drop in a bucket of blood shed by Argentina’s news business since the right-wing President Mauricio Macri was elected in November 2015. Most of the casualties have come from newspapers and broadcast outlets that, like the Herald, have criticized or stayed independent of the Macri government.
Our guest today, Joe Goldman, has covered Latin America from his base in Buenos Aires for American ABC News for decades. He has also worked as an independent investigative reporter and author, and, over the years, had many pieces published by The Buenos Aires Herald.
Joe Goldman has reported on Latin America for ABC News from Buenos Aires, Argentina for close to 2 decades. An investigative reporter, he was co-author of a respected Spanish-language book on the 1994 terrorist bombing of Argentina’s leading Jewish Association offices, and Joe was a longtime staffer and contributor to the late English-language newspaper the Buenos Aires Herald.
Argentine Paper Stood Up to the Generals, but Succumbed to Market Forces – NY Times