Friday, November 12, 2010

Latin-London?

Living in a city synonymous with rain, you’d think I’d be more prepared for it. Today was one of those typical rainy London days, the kind that paints everything a slick coat of dark grey, including my mood. I don't know whose bright idea it was to make this a business capital because there's nothing less conducive to shiny business attire than London weather. The tiny sidewalks, crowded enough when it's dry, become hazardous with the scramble of bodies trying to find space for both themselves and their umbrellas. Not that umbrellas are much help anyway. Forget Chicago, I'm petitioning to rename London the 'Windy City' because of its gales. Sadly, it's not like you can wear your goretex jacket and be done with it. Do this and you'll instantly be recognised as a foreigner. There is always the option of a chic London Fog or Burberry trench coat, but who can afford those except for bankers with GIANT UMBRELLAS?

So why did I even bother leaving the flat today? Well, I had a meeting with the editor of a Brazilian publication that I've wanted to be involved in for pretty much forever (but never could because it was very UK specific and I wasn't living here at the time). He was very nice (as almost all Brazilians are), and told me I'd be a real asset... if only they weren't stopping the publication due to a number of factors (the major one being the cost of producing it). Ugh, just my luck! But it started me thinking... what if other cultural publications in multicultural cities are suffering the same fate? It's difficult even in good economic times to cater to a niche market, and I know of a similar example with a Portuguese publication in Canada who had to move from a monthly to 'special edition' magazine.

When I originally applied for my Master's programme in Latin American Studies, the region was being touted as the next up-and-coming market with powerhouse Brazil leading the way. And perhaps in terms of overseas investment this is still the case. But many Latino-specific companies and organizations are having a hard time making a go of it abroad. Brazilians especially are returning to their country in droves, lured by the prospect of opportunities with the coming World Cup and Olympic Games*. If Latin America is the future, the future is still a ways off.

So where does this leave the remaining Latinos and Latino-philes like me? Do we branch out to include other ethnic communities, hoping a wider audience and cross-promotion will save us? Or do we narrow our focus and hope to ride it out? On one hand, we can offer something that no one save a small community will want, but at least we are tapping into that community. On the other hand, we can offer something for everyone... that no one will really want because it's not specific enough to their wants and needs. 'Every-Culture-Other-Than-British-White-People Magazine' doesn't exactly have a ring to it, and you might as well just buy the Guardian.

Which reminds me: why hasn't the Guardian hired me yet?

*Special thanks to Gi for this insider info.

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