Uganda ranks 139 out of 170 in press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders, which must be some sort of French counting error because they publish the single greatest newspaper in the world, Red Pepper. If you think the New York Post gets a little intense whenever we bomb some guy from Al Qaeda, check out how the Ugandan "Newspaper of the Year" (Which year you smugly ask? THE year, smartass) responds to 18 of their countrymen dying from the Ebola virus.
Yep, with hemorrhagic red Misfits letters and a front-page infographic warning you not to fuck fat girls in the bathroom. Breslin himself couldn't have put it any more succinctly. And while Red Pepper has already made itself more readable and informative than any paper in America with 1/8 of their cover on a single morning, don't think for a second they're willing to rest on these laurels. Inside is a relentless barrage of the most hard-hitting African journalism since Kapuściński left to swim in that great vodka bottle in the sky.
All beats are covered with dedication and directness, from international penis worms to local lesbians on the lam, and ages before the myopic pussies of the Western media get around to them.
Granted, it's easy enough for a paper to follow the "It bleeds it leads" editorial dictum to success—especially in a country where "what bleeds" is the emulsified digestive systems of 18 people out their recta—but where Red Pepper really shines is in their ability to blend in a healthy dose of positive community news without falling back on your standard "human interest" non-stories.
They even do acid-tongued Page Six-style celebrity coverage, but funnier, way harsher, and with no actual celebrities.
A lot of foreign college students and NGO types like to look down their noses at the Pep for pandering to their audiences' most base interests and even accuse it of being an instrument of the state specifically engineered to distract working-class Ugandans from the real issues in their country. Maybe you're like them. Maybe you think we're sharing a sarcastic wink-wink joke between smarmy white kids when I say the editors of Red Pepper are among the most principled members of their trade.
By way of fuck you, here's the deal: Red Pepper panders to no one. This is the paper that went to court over their claim that Muammar Ghadaffi was fucking the queen of the local Tooro tribe, LOST, and still stands by it despite the fact that the late Colonel essentially bankrolled both the Ugandan Central Government and the Tooro Monarchy in the last years of his life, and is so missed that Kampala's biggest mosque and least dusty street are named in his honor. Critics may label this move a stunt to sell papers, but I believe the uncompromised resolve it exemplifies deserves to sell papers. Their willingness to be hated by reader and ruler alike would choke up GG Allin. They are a bastion of integrity and pure, galvanic determination at the very navel of the world's corruption.
And before anyone chimes in with the old "Ugandans are sexually repressed fagbashers #chickfila" argument, please take a look at Red Pepper's daily insert, Honey: The Magazine for Lovers and try to envision the kind of sex-positive Portlandian womynist zine that would be willing to run articles as progressive as these. Give or take the word "bonk."