Friday, 21 December 2007

deputy managing editor of the International Herald Tribune on the evolution of online newspapers

Len Apcar, deputy managing editor of the International Herald Tribune and a former editor-in-chief of, says enabling free and unfettered access to the online paper has "proven to be a very successful advertising model by itself."

Apcar was a guest speaker at the INSEAD Business Journalists Seminar held at the Asia campus in Singapore in October. You can read in full an article about his talk at
but here are the main take outs of things we can learn about the IHT and it's thinking:

  • cannibalisation of print newspaper sales by the online paper had "happened around the edges", the paper's online presence has helped boost online readership growth and, consequently, online advertising.
  • there is "very little overlap" among the readers of the online and print newspaper
    readers of the online paper "want a different experience" and tend to use the "search-and-obtain" function of the Internet to scan the headlines or get a quick overview of the news.
  • print edition readers are accustomed to a "lean back, open the paper and read" sensibility.
  • "you can make up the difference of the subscription route by advertisements on the web, as readers come in greater volume,"

    On Murdoch's acquisition of Dow Jones
  • Murdoch faces strong competition from newspapers such as the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times.
  • "Nobody will be easily pushed over. And he has to pick a spot.I don't think he can take us all on in every different way. Nobody's going to run away. It's a competitive playing field and we'll have to wait and see what his first moves will be".
  • newsrooms around the world are "becoming truly platform-agnostic"
  • journalists will have to employ much more diverse methods of reporting.
  • "I always used to say when I was web editor ‘we've got to tell stories in ways the paper cannot tell them.'"
  • blogs have added a lot to journalism, but says he thinks that they will be "succeeded by something else.”
  • For instance, he believes the popularity of video blogs will continue to grow
  • "We always have to remember that we are in the business of giving people information. And we're going to give it to them the way they want to get it. And if they want it on a particular device, we'll be there.”

My views on Apcar's comments are as follows:

  • if he thinks Murdoch isn't capable of taking on the IHT, the FT, and NYT all at the same time, in every way, he's way, way off base;
  • Murdoch is probably coming straight at the IHT if he has any smarts about him on international publishing. NYT Manhattan is focused on Manhattan (WSJ/NYT) but my guess Murdoch is focused on London and Paris (The Times of London/FT/IHT)

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