By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Gringo Times will have a new name, but it is not a change that was taken lightly. Following last week’s story about the meaning of the word “Gringo”, and the survey participation of over 100 of readers, the polls are in, and Rio’s only English language local news source has a new name – The Rio Times.
Whether pejorative or not, the word Gringo has sensitive connotations for some foreign nationals living in the city. Brazil may be one of the few countries where its use is largely light-hearted and affectionate, but for some, it’s a word that will always be uncomfortable.
The focus for the news company has always been the English speaking foreign community in Rio, and to cause offense to or alienate anyone in that core readership base does not pay-off. As one survey respondent commented; “The Gringo Times (to use its current name) is a credible, reliable and entertaining news source and while I know the ´gringo´ tag is not (always) derogatory, in terms of tone and the initial impression upon hearing the name Gringo Times, it doesn’t do justice to the quality of your output”.
Another survey respondent provided a different perspective; “You’re a gringo. Don’t be afraid of the word. Of course it’s slightly pejorative in the mouths of ill-natured people, but if you use it on yourself, it becomes less so. It’s now a known brand and very distinctive.”
Not surprisingly, the great proportion of those in favor of retaining the name The Gringo Times were indeed Brazilians, many of whom enjoyed the self-deprecating and self-aware approach to reporting news in a foreign country.
This also reasserted the fact that there is generally no malice associated with the word in the eyes of most Brazilians, and as such it was a close run issue as publisher Stone Korshak is well aware; “I’m not surprised that the results are so close – from the beginning people really loved the name The Gringo Times, so these results validate us starting with it. I do think, though, that there are enough people out there uncomfortable with it, especially advertisers, so it is clear that the answer is to go forward with the Rio Times.”
Ultimately The Rio Times is a serious news outlet for the comings and goings of Rio de Janeiro, always with a slight slant towards foreigners living here, and as such the flippant associations with the old name made for a somewhat incongruous match up which Stone realized needed addressing; “Although the word Gringo resonates with a lot of people, ultimately it is not doing our brand justice, as it takes away from how serious a news publisher we are. We didn’t want anybody to hear the name Gringo Times and misunderstand what we are doing.”
The name change will happen in the next few weeks, with a new logo and web address; www.riotimesonline.com. The old URL will redirect to the new one to ensure everyone can find the site, and the change will happen at a time to minimize any disruption to readers. All the past stories will still be available, so the news company will continue to build an archive of record for the Marvelous City.