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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The New News

Reading the newspapers here is a lot like trying to read them as a child. I often lack knowledge of the social context of the stories which means that I’m just reading words on a page. This is especially true when it comes to the local scene. International news is not a problem; it’s the same as in English. It’s almost impossible to avoid soccer news. It makes up a good portion of the daily newspapers. This is in addition to the several soccer dailies in circulation.

If I feel like keeping up with the war in Iraq I read the excellent Madrid daily, El País. From what I have read so far I’d say their in-depth coverage can only be matched by the New York Times. I read a feature about Sadr City from November 24 that was very gritty and descriptive. Americans would be well served to read a little more outside-the-green-zone reporting. After the horrible car bombings of November 23 in which over 150 Shiites were killed, El País didn’t hesitate to call this an all-out civil war.

But for the most part Spanish newspapers are concerned with Spanish news. Like most cities in Europe, news kiosks seem to occupy almost every corner. Valencia has several daily newspapers including at least one written in Valenciano, Valéncia hui, or Valencia Today. I don’t know how they can compete but there are four daily sport newspapers that deal primarily with Spanish soccer: As, Super Deporte, Marca, and Sport.

My contact with the Spanish press has been casual at best. I’ve been too preoccupied with finding a place to live. I read as much of the papers as I can while I am having a cup of coffee or a beer. If I find an article that interests me I’ll take the paper home for further study.
TV news is about my last choice of programming but it’s on pretty much all the time and is hard to avoid. If it pertains to things or events about which I am familiar, I am able to understand it well. The more arcane matters of Spanish politics and society are a little more of a challenge for the newcomer.

I told myself before I left that I was only going to get my news and entertainment through Spanish or French sources. I have a subscription to The New Yorker magazine that I may forward here once I get an address but I may keep 100% faithful to my original promise. I really don’t care much about the news, anyway. Today over coffee with someone we got on to the subject of American politics. I began an explanation of the whole liberal/conservative split in America and I stopped myself short. I was boring myself half to death. The only reason that I have any interest in Spanish politics—at least for the moment—is for the cultural literacy it affords me.

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