Saturday, 8 December 2007

IHT Reader Interest in US Presidential Primaries

According to 'Europe speaks out on American politics' (Friday, December7, 2007) a poll conducted for the international news channel France 24 and the International Herald Tribune revealed that 'Europeans are only mildly interested in the election and know little about any of the candidates except for Clinton.'

Given the coverage of the US Elections 2008 by the IHT, each article literally flagged with its own logo consisting of an American flag and the strapline Elections 2008, IHT editors firmly believe that its international readership are more than mildly interested.

Indeed the front page from the same day's edition featured Republican nominee, Mitt Romney's speech in College Station, Texas addressing the tricky issue of his Mormon religious beliefs. (Republicans hopeful talks of his Mormon religion; Friday, December 7, 2007)

Back in the day, the extensive coverage of the American primaries, beginning at least 18 months before the actual presidential election, was seen by many on the business side of the newspaper as overly attentive, and disproportionate given the wider world news stories of the day and the interests of a diverse (that is to say, non-American) readership.

It didn't help that any young advertising agency media planner having a quick flick through the paper would only have his prejudices confirmed that the paper served its American expatriate audience first and foremost.

This perception/reality/prejudice, call it what you will, was, and perhaps still is, probably the single largest break on the IHT winning more advertising (that and the fact that most important international surveys of senior business people show that very few of them read the IHT, at least as compared with papers like the FT).

Personally I like the coverage of the US primaries - I find American politics perverse and intriguing, particularly as concerns funding, and whoever is the next President of the United States will have enormous implications for the entire planet, myself included.

The amount of column-inches dedicated to the primaries therefore strikes me as about right, but putting Romney's speech, with a picture of him, on the front page, before we have even had a single primary election, seems exactly wrong.

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