Friday, 21 December 2007

Think again about the International Herald Tribune and Russia

I had an interesting chat this morning with a friend of mine who works at the International Herald Tribune, who, to put it bluntly, described my posting about the Supreme Luxury Conference in Moscow in the week before their national elections as a load of 'sanctimonious bollocks'.

My friend made a number of good points and I'll try and sum them up as best I can.

Firstly, the decision to hold the conference on Luxury (now in it's 7th year and one of the IHT's most profitable franchises) in Moscow, was made over a year ago, clearly at a time when the IHT had no idea that it would be the week before the elections. Had they known the date of the Russian elections it is unlikely they would have held the conference the week before the Sunday's vote.

As for elections themselves, we were in agreement that the IHT's coverage of them, and Russia in general, has been very good.

Secondly, like it or not, the fashion business is an industry, and an industry with a turnover of billions of dollars. Why would one not expect the IHT to cover the industry, and as for following the money, what business, in this case their conference business, would or should not?

The participation of IHT senior journalists was, in this context, completely legitimate, and, as somebody who had attended the conference, my friend reported that the IHT editors that moderated various panel discussions were there as journalists, asking some tough questions (for example on ethics) and were not there simply as fawning talking-heads.

Interestingly, the IHT's conference on fashion has become one of the biggest in the industry, and it's not as if its competitors - like the Financial Times - aren't doing the same: the FT have done 4 or 5, most recently in Italy, again with the participation of their journalists on panels, such as Michael Wolf and Lionel Barber.

I hope that's a fair summary of my friends' viewpoint, and I have to say, I can't argue with much of it.

However, was the timing of the conference unfortunate?

Yes, IMHO, it was.

Should they have rescheduled when they knew the election date?

That's a tough call to make when you're trying to run a profitable newspaper, and luckily it wasn't on my watch that that decision had to be made or not.

Yes, the joys of being a blogger: you can shoot your mouth off, and you don't have to take any real responsibility for the institution, business or issue you are blogging about.

I think I'm going to have to revisit this issue of the IHT and Luxury & the readership group known in the advertising world as High Net Worth Individuals. More to ponder on, especially given my recent posting of Mr. Frommer's view on luxury travel.

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