Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Which edition of the IHT am I writing about?

Back in the day, there was one worldwide edition of the IHT. This meant that if you believed in such a thing as a community of IHT readers, you could be certain that what you were reading in Singapore was the same as your counterpart, friend or colleague in London.

This is no longer the case, with editions being separately prepared for Asia and Europe. The business thinking behind this was that there was not enough Asian news in the worldwide edition of the IHT, that the news was not timely and as a result the paper was unable to compete for readers, and hence advertisers, with the Asian Wall Street Journal.

I don't intend to get into this right now - whether those arguments were valid or not - but I can say I was intimately involved in the discussions that lead to the decision to print an Asian edition.

What I want to flag is that the edition of the IHT that I am bloggin about is perhaps not the one you are reading. This is because I am in Europe, and you might be reading the IHT in Asia.

In addition, there is more than one edition of the IHT available in Europe. In order to meet the deadlines in certain European countries for distribution, the paper I receive here in rural France is not the final edition of the newspaper but one printed for distribution by the French postal system, a system that has a special delivery to ensure postal delivery of newspapers on Day A (day of publication). Hence what I am commenting on is not the edition that is hand-delivered in Paris, but an edition printed earlier.

How much variation there is between these various editions depends. Clearly if there is a late breaking story of major import, the front page of my edition may be very different from the final edition. There are meant to be significant differences between the various Asian editions (Japan and one edited out of Hong Kong) and the European (also known as the Atlantic) edition, especially since early printing in Hong Kong (when that did not deliver significant boosts in circulation, readership and advertising) was complemented by the opening of an Asian editorial office in Hong Kong. (What positive changes that move created is also something we can come back to, but certainly the extra workload created by the move from one to multi-editions for IHT employees in Paris, was, and continues to be, a source of much newsroom moaning.)

So if my comments about the paper don't match with the paper you are holding in your hand, that's the reason.

As to , I hope, in the fullness of time to come to that, but at least for now I am only going to be blogging about the Atlantic (early) edition of the IHT that I receive here in rural France.

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