Newspapers and magazines: voices of non-British in London

by Marcelo Magalhaes Menezes
RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo expressed his worries about Madeira Island, his homeland.
ShopsAsian minorities prefer their ethnic supermarkets, a more "cultural" shopping experience.
ChineseStreams of firecrackers marked the Chinese New Year in London's Trafalgar Square.

“Apoio à comunidade” and “Apteki i lekarstwa” may not mean anything to the Brits. But headlines like this are read by thousands of non-British residents in London everyday.

International newspapers and magazines are either sold or distributed for free in shops, restaurants and tube stations. They range from Polish to Brazilian, Canadian, South African and Arabic to name a few.

Most are written in the original language and cover stories from the homeland.

“I read them because they inform me of what is happening in my country and offer me a range of services”, says Andrzej Kuligowski, a shop owner who reads Express Polish, a weekly newspaper.

“Publications like Leros and Brazilian News are important to me,” says a Brazilian IT technician, Marcelo Roveda, “not only because of the news, but because I can offer my help to other Brazilians. They usually prefer help from a person who speaks their own language”.

Real Brazilian

Similar to many international magazines in London, Brazilian monthly Real publishes stories about cultural events, immigration law and life in the city. Its publication has started since 2003.

“We work to offer useful information to the Brazilian community,” explains Editor-in-chief Regis Querino. “In February, for example, our front page was about a project that helps Latin-American disabled people”.

Real does not aim to inform the Brazilians of what is happening in their country only, but also of valuable opportunities in London.

“It’s something like being informed about the topics you are interested in, about the news in Brazil. But remember, you are in London. So enjoy what this city offers you culturally”, explains Querino.   

Before starting his Portuguese-lesson project, André Debiagi, a teacher, used Real to attract volunteers. Now, his team is giving free Portuguese lessons to people in Islington.

“We contacted the magazine and they gave us an important space last December. We could only turn this project into reality with the help of Real”, says Debiagi.

A way of getting united

A sociologist, Anthony McNicholas, has been studying the significance of the press by observing the Irish community in the UK.

He believes the key benefit of international papers is that they help unite people of the same ethnic group who live outside their country.

“They became more national than people back home”, he explains. “In Ireland, they are very provincial. People from Cork would fight with people from Kerry.

But in England, they are all Irish. And that national feeling is something that becomes stronger outside the country than inside of it”.

According to McNicholas, international newspapers and magazines help create a useful network of services among ethnic minorities in London. However, this is not the only way to get information.

“If you are in London as a permanent resident, you have to learn English and the way of living here. If you stay only on your own, this can become a disadvantage”.