August 13, 2011

The Courier: Newspaper for Ex-Pats

While Tabloid Watch and co (1, 2, 3, 4,etc) have done a sensational job of keeping their analytical eyes on the UK press, they haven't perhaps had the chance I have of visiting an English-run villa in Spain.

I've just come back from a holiday with friends in Alicante, and happened to find a newspaper in the magazine rack called The Courier. It was 4 months out of date, but I found it far to irresistible to ignore. It's a newspaper for English folk who have abandoned Blightly for the sunnier sands of Spain. An Ex-Pat newspaper, if you will. You know Ex-Pats? They are the ones who comment on Daily Mail articles to complain about how Britain has gone to shit because we have to separate our recycling and we can't belt our kids any more*.

The Courier is an interesting paper. It has the feel of a local paper, like the News Shopper but the flavour of the Mail or Express.

For example: The front page (above) has decided to focus on two 'outrage'/'blunder' stories. The main story - an "exculsive" (snort!) - tells the story of a English couple who were accidentally charged thousands of pounds to their water bill when an underground pipe burst. You'll notice the classic sad-people-holding-object-related-to-the-story which is a tabloid staple. 

Running down the left hand side, you'll notice a dig at UK parking prices and how things are so much better in Alicante. Until you get your water bill, of course.

The rest of the paper is a fairly light read, keeping you abreast with all the news that you'll want to bitch and gossip about to your neighbours over your sun-baked villa walls. It appears to have less sub-editors than the Daily Express, mind:

It does, however, have a couple of things you won't find in your standard Mail or Sun style UK rag. One of these things is media analysis:

You'll notice they've taken a slightly different approach to editorialising the UK papers than, say, The Guardian. They've employed Donna Gee, the 'Grumpy Old Gran' to give her take on the state of the media. Ms Gee hasn't just been pulled out of the old folks' home - she has experience in the Express, Mirror and Star. According to her byline, she 'now plans to solve all the world's problems via The Courier', which is nice.

I'm not entirely sure if the cascade of newspapers above her article are meant to be reflective of her career or if they represent the 'gutter press' she refers to in her article. If so, she appears to be turning on her own paper! 

The other item that might take a UK newspaper reader by surprise is a full-blown apology. A proper apology, not a clarification of a 'suggestion' or a 'misleading phrasing', a full out sorry. In big bold letters:

Not only that, but it's an absolutely hilarious apology (with some premature capitalisation for good measure):

"In an article in last week's issue we referrer to the image of Jesus Christ being discovered in a puddle of vomit in Benidorm UNDER THE HEADER, THE FATHER, THE SON & THE HOLY VOMIT. However, following several complaints we now realise that an error of judgement was made by our hopeless editor, Dave Bull, and the article should not have been printed. The Courier apologises to all those offended by the article which was meant to be funny as part of the April fool's Day fun but, unfortunately, it was one that went to far. We hope that readers will continue to enjoy The Courier's 'different' take on life and continue to keep an eye on us so that we can bring you the best newspaper in the region... most of the time.

An excellent apology, I think. Genuinely regretful and apologetic, names the responsible party, explains itself and uses a tone appropriate to the error. Fun.

So, what can I say about The Courier. In the single issue I saw I thought it was a better version of The Sun or The Mail. Ranty and moany, but sedated and self-aware. Also, it's in a different country, which helps.

*Yes, I know all ex-patriots aren't like that. I'm sorry, ex-patriots; I'm being facetious.

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