Freedom of the press

It used to be that, if I crossed the plaza in front of my house between 9 and 10am, there would be a lady in an orange vest and hat handing out free copies of the Metro newspaper to passersby (though I must hasten to mention that in Santiago, we don’t have a metro). This was okay, because sometimes I would read the latest gossip (Britney’s shaved head) or local news articles (like the man who killed his wife and mother-in-law, claiming to have imagined that they were ostriches that were attacking him in his sleep), and sometimes there were sections in English that I could use with my students. And if I happened to walk by there late, or early, no one would bother me and that was fine. And everyone was happy.

Then one day, a new newspaper, 20 Minutos, showed up. They stood in the same plaza right next to the Metro lady and so you would get TWO newspapers, both with the same, if not ridiculously similar, articles, and they started to pile up in my room, unread. So I started to politely refuse when they offered me copies. I always got a glaring look like, “Hey man, why can’t you just take a damn paper and be on your way?” while my opinion is, “Hey listen, I’ve got nothing against your newspaper, but I don’t have time to read it and I don’t want all that crap in my apartment!”

Well. NOW, in my five-minute daily walk from Carlos’ apartment to mine, there are FOUR newspapers. There are two 20 Minutos distributors (though I think “hander-outers” is the correct term), one from the Metro, and one from a local Galician gossip-newspaper called Luns a venres. It’s gotten out of hand. Now they’re there for hours, offering me papers every few feet, and if I happen to pass through the plaza more than once during the morning, I will get offered papers so many times that I will eventually take one out of pure exasperation.

If I had a job where I was required to be at my desk for eight hours straight, these papers would come in handy. However, I don’t, and so they don’t, and I generally just find it irritating to start my day by having papers thrust in my face (which, through the rest of the day, will be followed by having fliers and pamphlets thrust in my face). I suppose if this is the biggest thing I’ve got to complain about, that’s probably pretty good. But still, it makes for an entertaining story, so I thought I’d mention it. Who knows, maybe this post will appear in the next issue of 20 Minutos. Maybe not.


4 thoughts on “Freedom of the press

  1. Headlines don’t sell papes, Newsies sell papes.
    I feel the only way to solve this problem is to reject the papers by mutter some obscure quotation from the hit film, Newsies in Spanish.
    How do you say “Newsies” in Spanish?
    love you, beatuiful.

  2. Your story reminds me of all the people shoving stuff in my face when I was working in the loop. Unfortunately, sometimes those guys wanted money for whatever it was, so you had to be careful about showing too much interest. I found that if I took a free whatever from the first guy, I could wave it at the next few to show them “see, I have one already, now back off and let me listen to my ipod in peace! It doesn’t matter that I can’t hear it over the noise of the L!”
    Feel free to keep the stories of life in Spain coming, by the way.

  3. The Metro stops and various busy morning thoroughfares in Budapest are stocked with flier distributors. They apparently get paid for the amount they hand out, and sometimes I’ll grab one charitably. More often than not I just do not make eye contact, or will wave them off with a “Nem, nem”.

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