Freetown, Baby!


Stop Press by jc2010sl
March 6, 2010, 1:05 pm
Filed under: public life, society | Tags: , ,

Five weeks in and I still haven’t read all the papers. I don’t even know all their names yet, but I’ve been told there are about 25. Considering the population of the whole country is only c. 6 million people, and that the papers are only published in Freetown – population c. 1 million – that’s a pretty vibrant press culture.

At a glance it’s hard to tell the titles apart – all are tabloid format, about 20 pages long, and mostly have front pages in colour. On reading though there are certainly higher- and lower-brow markets, and clear political bents, with the latter played out in strongly personal terms. Some of the articles in the serious papers wouldn’t be out of place in a monthly periodical. Can you imagine “Formal versus social approaches in the fight against corruption” in a UK daily? Others are far more “newsy” with a decidedly gossipy reporting style. “Apparently”, “sources suggest”, and “it is rumoured” are pretty stock phrases. I’m reminded of a Hunter S Thompson anecdote from his coverage of the 1972 Nixon election campaign. A TV journalist probed him on one of his reports; “You claim that there were rumours…” Hunter S: “I know for a fact there were rumours – I started them”. Well quite.

Much of the content would be familiar to a UK readership. The sports pages cover the Premiership almost exclusively –one back page was a facsimile copy of the latest News of The World! Star signs are a staple, with mine yesterday a choice example: “Party girl Venus dons a frilly apron to sashay around your home center. Since that mad man-about-town Daddy Jupiter is there too, changes will be glitzy. Tweak your digs with an eye to entertaining. With the sun summating as well, there should be the wherewithal to indulge yourself, as only you know how.”

Not sure I follow all of it, but it sounds tantalising…