Saturday, 15 December 2007
Please make clear in your email if your comments are for publication or not, and if so whether I can quote your full name and position, or whether you would prefer to remain anonymous. I do fully understand the journalistic principal of speaking 'off the record' and I can't wait to use that great NYT line, "according to a highly placed IHT employee, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak on the company's behalf' (or words to that effect).
If you are just a reader and have no fear of being fired for emailing remarks or comments to this blog (and there is no reason why any IHT employee should be fired for having dealings with or just reading this blog - at least that I am aware of) but you would still like to remain anonymous, I would love to know at least your age, occupation (title), business sector, nationality and country of location.
If you work for the IHT and have something you would like to share with me, please do so, provided it is accurate. Major story; of small consequence but interesting; business or editorial; inside scoop, funny anecdote, company gossip, I'm not fussy.
What I can guarantee you is your complete anonymity, once I have established who you are. My rules on the protection of sources, and making sure you can't be identified, will be as robust as those of the NYT.
I know Judith Millar 'got permission' to dob in her source after how ever many days it was she spent in jail salvaging her reputation - having misreported the biggest story of perhaps America's entire history - but I hope to do even better than her on source confidentiality.
I'm thin skinned so if a lot of your emails are rude and critical about my blog, I may well stop.
So email me away if that's what you would like to achieve.
A few things spring to mind:
- Can anyone send me an accurate report of Murdoch 'publicily taking aim at the NYT'? I am sure he may well have, but I haven't had time to look for a reliable source on this. I would love to know his actual words.
- Did this public statement say he was 'hoping to win readers, advertisers and influence' OR is that 'opinion' rather than fact?
- Why has the IHT not mentioned in this story that it is owned by the NYT? I think most IHT readers know this, but it always used to the case that, whenever a business story was published concerning the NYT (or back in the day, the WP), IHT copy editors would dutifully remind its readers of this fact, as part of the full-disclosure in the news piece in order to maintain its credibility.
My guess is that there are more IHT readers who need to be told the IHT is a NYT property, than IHT readers who need to be told that Singapore Airlines is an Asian carrier (see previous post).
Who knows what Murdoch has in mind for Dow Jones but while everyone is looking at how he might use it to take on the NYT in the USA, perhaps he is thinking more about how he could use the WSJ and The Times of London, and some of his Australian broadsheet content providers, to take on the IHT internationally.
One thing is probably for sure: Murdoch and the executive board of News Corp know one hell of a lot more about international English-language publishing than Pinch and the executive board of the NYT, company or newspaper.
In fact I'd go further than that and say Murdoch and his people probably know a hell of a lot more about life and business outside of Manhattan than the NYT gang.
We'll know if he's up to something if he seduces a couple of current senior IHT editors or business executives away from the IHT, but for all their woes, he has already got his hands on the distribution and international advertising expertise of the WSJ Europe and Asia.
Furthermore he has considerable experience of distributing The Times of London internationally, even if to a predominantly British audience.
The Times of London could serve as that core domestic audience in Europe (that the IHT hasn't got), combined with the WSJ in the USA, to be put together as an advertising package like the NYT has with the IHT and its Euroreach partners - a package that that could be a seriously compelling proposition to advertisers.
Please email you thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes this can be a subjective call, and one that copy editors are presumably charged with being alert to.
Elaine Sciolino, writing in yesterday's IHT on Qaddafi's visit to France (Rocky time for Qaddafi during visit to France; Friday, December 14, 2007) stated that the Libyan leader 'insulted his host' by denying the subject of human rights had come up in his discussions with Sarko, Sarko having stated that they had.
That was certainly the opinion of one of her 'sources', a senior Socialist, speaking on RTL radio (that's known as riffing off other MSM content providers btw) who was of the opinion that Qaddafi calling Sarko a liar was an affront to France, a humiliation.
But was Sciolino right to report as 'news' (i.e fact) that Qaddafi had insulted his host?
Sarko, the insulted one, wasn't consulted by Sciolino, and if indeed Qaddafi was telling the truth - and we don't know he wasn't - could it be correctly termed an insult?
This style of news reporting smacked of opinion, not news.
An interesting comparison from yesterday's paper was a story by Nicola Clark in the business section about the sale of the Italian government's stake in Alitalia. (Mysterious approach for Alitalia vanishes; Friday, December 14, 2007)
According to Clark, Alitalia claimed it had received an approach from a group that included Singapore Airlines - 'a claim the Asian carrier swiftly denied' (btw: thanks to Clark for informing the IHT's infamously well-travelled readers that Singapore Airlines is indeed an Asian carrier).
Unlike Sciolino, Clark felt unable to offer as fact that Singapore Airlines had been insulted by this Alitalia claim.
The discussion overheard about this blog was not very flattering I am afraid to report, plus quite a bit of surprise that anyone should write such a blog ('they', the newsroom do write about 'us', the rest of the world for a living, so why the surprise I don't know. I found a photo of Gordon Brown's empty place setting, at the EU treaty signing in Lisbon, on the front page of yesterday's IHT a surprise, so I guess we can all be surprised).
Naturally my grammar, typos, split infinitives et al received a well-deserved bashing from copy editors, many who spend their entire careers sorting these things out (many had perhaps hoped to win a Pulitzer, some still do but let's not forget that most of the Paris newsroom is made up of shift-working copy editors, as opposed to what one might call 'journalists'.)
The main concern, as reported to me by my little bird, was that this blog should be 'accurate', and that's certainly a goal I share with the IHtwittering class in Neuilly.
To my knowledge, thus far, I have made only one factual error, having mistakenly identified a current IHT employee as an 'ex-employee', a mistake I immediately corrected as soon as it was brought to my attention by a posting on this blog.
I think that given my in-house capacity here to research, write and edit, and given the many more column-inches (is that with a hyphen? I don't know and I haven't the time to check) published by the IHT, that my goal will be to be at least as accurate as the IHT.
How accurate is that? My guideline is going to be how many corrections the IHT is obliged to publish every day.
For example, an article last Tuesday about the sentencing of Conrad Black 'misstated the proximity of the federal prison', where Black will probably serve his sentence, to his Palm Beach home. The IHT was forced to concede yesterday in its Corrections section that a prison that is 500 miles away from his home could not be described as 'near'.
Better (or worse) still was the embarrassing correction, also published yesterday, which reminded IHT journalists and copy editors (and probably not that many of its readers) that the capital of Turkey is not Istanbul but Ankara.
Things went downhill from there (actually northeast) in the original article last Monday on ethnic tensions in northern Iraq's oil city of Kirkuk.
The original article stated that the area of Turkey where most Kurds live as being in the northeast of Turkey. It is in fact in the southeast.
And the ethnic background of a member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council who was quoted in the article is in fact Turkmen (sic?), not Arab.
That's pretty good going, given the subject matter.
So I'm going to call my accuracy measure for this blog the 'Istanbul Test'.
If any reader spots any inaccuracies in this blog please let me know immediately, but please could you spare me copy editing corrections on grammar, spelling and typos.
Istanballs-ups only please.
(For American IHT copy editors, a 'balls-up' is with a hyphen and is British vulgar slang for a bungled task or action.)
I'm also interested in any inaccuracies published in the IHT which are NOT corrected.
You can write to me on either subject at email@example.com
One of them, according to a prominent Chinese community leader, writing in a leading Chinese newspaper, is to "Learn the World" and that means reading the International Herald Tribune (and The Economist and Business Week).
To check the other 10 things on your 'to do list' visit http://allaboutlivingwithlife.blogspot.com/2007/12/education-eleven-things-university.html
Friday, 14 December 2007
No, nor did I until coming across some discussion of it at http://www.bivingsreport.com/2007/iht-shares-thoughts-on-visitor-comments/
The reason you probably don't know about is that you weren't supposed to, which is a kind of interesting way of running a blog.
Actually it precisely mirrors my own approach thus far. I've hardly made any efforts to inform IHT readers about www.ihtreaders.blogspot.com because I'm curious to see if the IHT will do if for me.
Since Michael Cosentino started his blog back in September 2007, he's made about 7 postings which have attracted about 25 reader comments (I haven't even bothered to read these nor de-duplicate them, but my guess is that they are not unique visitors.)
Here's how Cosentino launched the blog:
Welcome to the ever-so-creatively named IHT.com Developer Blog. If you somehow found this blog, then congratulations, because we haven’t linked to it from anywhere on IHT.com or the rest of the web we’ve tucked it discreetly in the global footer.
And indeed, if you go there, at the bottom of the home page, there it is under More:
IHT Developer's blog. http://blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/technology/lab/
"We’re the open-source, free-love types and we’re open to comments, suggestions, and feature requests," he wrote in his debut post. "So now we’re joining the ranks of the the increasing number of developer blogs out there. In a very non-establishment move we’ve decided to give away the entries, in their entirety, in the RSS feeds, so subscribe away. Also, let’s be friends: feel free to add us to your blogroll or request to be added to ours."
And I am quite sure we will all be friends once:
a) we found out that we can be
b) that the good open-souce, free-love types at iht.com actually tell us where all this free love can be found.
With 7 posts and a grand total of c 25 posts in nearly 4 months I think we need a little more openness, and a little more love as readers.
(which to International Herald Tribune readers sounds rather like the IHT's Business of Green)
"It's a running joke that fashion people buy the IHT, read Suzy's reviews, and throw the rest of the newspaper out. This does not speak to the poor quality of journalism in the IHT, but rather to the high level of respect accorded to Ms. Menkes. Quite simply, there is no other fashion critic like her."
Apparently, "Every 6 months during the fashion weeks held in New York, London, Milan and Paris, fashionistas grab the International Herald Tribune each morning and skip straight to the Style section to see what Suzy Menkes has said about the collections."
It's true that there is no fashion critic like Ms. Menkes, nor any other IHT journalist who so directly delivers advertising dollars to the bottom line.
But have fashion people considered that the real running joke may in fact be that fashion people aren't much interested in anything but fashion?
Lord pity the poor IHT readers who aren't interested in fashion and who every 6 months grab their copy of the IHT and throw away the Style section. (No disrespect to the quality of Ms. Menkes' journalism.)
I would say, that in terms of CPM (cost per thousand readers), the full-colour fashion adverts aimed at this loyal readership of 'fashionistas', has to be about the most expensive global media buy available.
The IHT has finally woken up to just how much more money can be squeezed from such wasteful media buyers, and how as a brand extension IHT fashion can be milked through their Luxury Conferences.
What is not so evident, is that the IHT has also woken up the three following thoughts:
a) What happens if they don't look after Ms. Menkes enough and she goes walkabout - the WSJ for example under Mr. Murdoch?
b) What succession plans do they have for Ms. Menkes, in order to lock in this sizeable revenue, in the eventuality she does go walkabout?
c) How would the departure of Ms. Menkes affect the IHT's profitability targets?
Someday Ms. Menkes will surely retire. What then IHT?
For most readers, hopefully a respite from the domineering Style pages during the shows, but the revenue that will also go with them would hurt the IHT profoundly.
The IHT's offices there are the habitual default location for IHT worldwide offices - a cheap tower block in a not so hot location, but the atmosphere is certainly improved by Weddle's extremely affable demeanour.
If you know Hong Kong you'll understand what I mean by checking out the map below.
The reference was kindly provided by "Amadeo" who is today:
"extremely/incredibly/moreandmoreadverbs happy to say" that he has "landed a Web producer job with the International Herald Tribune. I can’t wait to get to work…in Hong Kong!"
Good luck Amadeo and do send us your news and views: we'd love to hear how it's going there.
But in the light of the IHT/Reuters deal, this old news from May 2007 is perhaps worthy of an exception:
OhMyNews headlines coming to International Herald Tribune2006-06-01
By Robert Niles: The Guardian reports that the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune has cut a deal with South Korean grassroots journalism site OhMyNews to feature OhMyNews headlines on the IHT website and, possibly in the future, articles in the paper.
From the Guardian report:
It is not yet clear whether such articles will be treated in a similar manner to those from established news agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press, but sources close to the negotiations believe it is likely that the newspaper itself could run such stories in the near future.
OhMyNews claims more than 40,000 contributors and is said to be negotiating syndication deals with other media companies.
Source: Riffing of riffer http://www.ojr.org/ojr/blog/200606/1117/ who riffed off The Guardian.
So where are these OhMyNews postings? I haven't spotted them yet.
Doing an advanced search on http://www.iht.com/, under the section Europe between December 8 and December 13, the International Herald Tribune's journalists were the source of 18 stories. The New York Times provided a further 19.
The Associated Press provided 288 stories during this period, in the Europe section alone.
As we know, http://www.iht.com/ is not resourced to be a 24/7 rolling news site. What its editors are doing are relying on the wire services: 'sifting' it's called in the MSM; in the blog world it's called, by the MSM, 'riffing off genuine content providers' according to Mr. Oreskes, exec. editor of the IHT.
But what http://www.iht.com/ is not doing, in the vast majority of cases is TRULY CREATING CONTENT and that apparently is what newspapers should be doing, again according to the IHT's own exec. editor.
What will be interesting to see is whether, in the light of the Reuters/IHT content deal, AP might seek a similar ad revenue share deal with the IHT, which could be more profitable for AP, and more expensive for the IHT, than remaining in their largely unacknowledged 'grunt' role for http://www.iht.com/
As I understand it, http://www.iht.com/ is getting 5 million visitors per month.
What I don't know is why they are coming, when so much of the content is coming from AP.
My guess is that the vast majority are searching on topics of interest to them, and duly arrive not through the front door but via Google or A.N. Other search engine (and a search of blogs about the IHT shows this at work - about 300 blogs a day reference the IHT).
What fascinates me is, of these 5 million monthly visitors, how many are unique visitors, and how many have the IHT as either their home page or visit the iht home page daily or more than 3-4 times per week.
And of those who do fall into the above sub-category of visitors, how many come for the IHT's uniquely created content or for its capacities as a reliable news filter of, we have to assume, reliable content providers, a role they have largely outsourced to AP in the news category, and Bloomberg, soon to be Reuters in the business section.
Ultimately, might the IHT get out of the expensive content generation business altogether and make its key brand offering doing the due dilligence on who is and who isn't a reliable content provider and then sifting and filtering those outsourced services' content into a manageable daily information packet?
This is one business they are in, but at the same time, they have invested in original content generation of their own.
But for now, they are still much more in the former business than the latter one.
As the figures show.
What I personally missed in my print edition of the IHT was a piece on IHT.com from AP about a new report on social mobility in the UK.
Where was Sarah Lyall on this story? If she has time for a missing prison guard, why not time for this:
'The study, funded by the education group Sutton Trust, said there had been no change in the ability of children to improve on their parents' income between 1970 and 2000.'
France 42's position is that French TV and radio widely considered internationally as the voice of the President and Foreign Minister, often inverting the reality of current affairs in order to tow the official line. Which is why their blog is called France 42.
Their views on French media, and the comparisons they draw between it and that of other countries extends to the print media as well, and they posted an interesting observation on the divergent coverage of the Merkels' recent dealings with Putin in Le Monde, with that of coverage provided by that of the Anglo-Saxon press, the International Herald Tribune included.
Here's how they illustrated it:
"A la différence d'Angela Merkel, qui défend les droits de l'homme et les principes démocratiques en tous lieux et quel que soit son interlocuteur, M. Sarkozy profite de l'incapacité de l'Europe à adopter une position commune sur ces questions pour se "placer" auprès des dirigeants les moins respectueux des libertés."(Edito du Monde, Kadhafi à Paris, 10.12.07)___________________________________
International Herald Tribune:
"Merkel told Nicolas Sarkozy last week, according to a German version of their conversation, that she's against setting up a formal group with the French, British and Americans to skirt the UN Security Council, and levy harder sanctions against Iran."(By JOHN VINOCUR, International Herald Tribune 17.09.2007)
"As Iran's largest trading partner and biggest European investor, Germany is critical to turning the economic screw on Tehran. Mrs Merkel must deal with competing pressures. Because of Germany's strong trading position in Iran, powerful commercial interests oppose sanctions."(By Alex Spillius and Harry de Quetteville, www.telegraph.co.uk 12.11.2007
What they didn't do is to distinguish between news, news analysis and opinion in the above three examples.
Only the IHT clearly separates and flags these categories, and rarely does an Anglo-Saxon slant creep into its news coverage, even if one could place the opinions of Vinocur in the Anglo-Saxon camp.
That's the beauty of the IHT, and what makes reading The Daily Telegraph of little use to readers who value that clear separation of these three, very different forms of information.
Which leads me to wonder if I too shouldn't be doing the same in this blog, flagging news, analysis and opinion. Or is blogging already too firmly established as a dangerous and unreliable mix of the three?
The Huffington Post wants to become an online newspaper, and it will be interesting to see how it tackles this issue of news definition.
As to Think! , for now I think I'll reflect on it.....The main problem is that it would require me to practise the disciplined skills of a journalist - multi-sourcing, fact-checking and all that stuff that takes time and money. But I don't want to be a journalist, haven't the time and there is no money in this.
I think for now any reader should assume that anything I write is unedited, barely re-read for typos save a quick spell check, unreliable, sloppily written and in no way resembling quality journalism- if that wasn't abundantly clear already...
But while the International Herald Tribune continues to do an excellent job of the following the laughable fluctuations in the Republican primary candidates' positions on immigration, they also regularly give front page play to the the horrific 'business' of human trafficking into Europe, and the resulting deaths that occur.
Just this week for example, and often on the front page, here are some stories from the IHT, that make it impossible for its readers to ignore this problem, covering the sinking of a boat full of migrants off Turkey over consecutive days from Monday December 10th, 2007
Migrant-laden vessel sinks between Turkey and Greece
By Caroline Brothers (International Herald Tribune) MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2007
At least 51 people drowned in rough seas over the weekend, and others remain lost at sea.
Boat carrying illegal migrants sinks off Turkey, killing at least 43
3 more bodies recovered after migrant boat sinks off Turkey; 46 dead
4 bodies wash up on shore after migrant boat sinks off Turkey http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/12/12/europe/EU-GEN-Turkey-Migrants.php
"Nowhere near as stuffy as you might expect from the IHT. Short, sharp, pointed commentary on the property market."
Nowhere near as stuffy? That's brand perception for you....
Katie Allen, The Guardian's media business correspondent reported yesterday that Reuters have also made a deal with the IHT's arch rival, The Financial Times, to provide video for FT.com
"Gary Williams, head of media sales at Reuters, said the video news partnerships demonstrated the agency's and FT.com's "commitment to providing the most powerful readership with the most powerful information".
So as the IHT drops its deal with Reuters' arch-rival Bloomberg, Reuters repays the favour with a deal with the IHT's arch rival the FT.
(They often say they are not competitors - that's B.S btw.)
So who exactly, according to Reuters, does have the most powerful readership?
It would seem Reuters are hedging their bets.
Confusing isn't it?
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Bottom-line: the house style of the IHT is American English Monday to Saturday included.
Bottom-line: The house the house style of the IHT is American English Monday thru Saturday.
I don't feel constrained on this blog to respect this rule, as I write now with a horrible mish-mash of Britishism and American style, and with no pedantic copy editor (American) in Paris pouring over my every word. I just tap and bang it out, so forgive me, typos, grammar and all.
To give you a flavour of just how tough it can be for Brits working at the IHT in editorial (and there aren't very many: Peter Berlin, the sports editor and of course managing editor Alison Smale being the two most high-profile ones, here is a lovely anecdote from an IHT employee on the subject (my apologies to her for originally describing Joyce as 'an ex-employee: she is currently on sabbatical):
I then started working in Hong Kong. HK Magazine was run by Americans, so I used "color" and "that," though the odd Brit would write in asking us why we spelled things wrong. The South China Morning Post was British-styled, so I switched to "colour" and "which."
I was never a big deal until I started at the International Herald Tribune. I have great respect for the IHT and the fact that it is one of the few places that care so much about the minutiae of style. Industry people aren't kidding when they call it the ultimate editors' paper.
But I have never seen "Britishisms" so reviled. IHT editors spend more time that you could imagine discussing, identifying and extracting them.
Once, I asked a colleague to read an FT Weekend column he might like. "On Cookery?" he gasped. "On Cookery? I can't read something that uses the word 'cookery'."
Before I went to the IHT, I was sure I knew the difference between the two. But the definition of what is acceptably American, at least according to some of our more conservative staff, is so narrow that even I can't figure it out.
"I'm going to visit my friend who is in hospital," I would say in my American accent.
My colleagues would groan. "God, there you go again. You and your British thing."
"What? what?" I'd go over the sentence again; it would seem perfectly neutral."
An American would say 'I'm going to visit a friend in THE hospital."
Same with "cinema," which some Americans say is too highfalutin', when one can say "movie theater." Or "cv," as opposed to "resume." "Gone missing" is another term I never knew was the providence of the British until I tried to use it in a headline about the Gol airlines plane that, you know, went missing in the Amazon last year.
"Stop using Britishisms," I was told.
"What was I supposed to say?"
"Americans don't say 'go missing'. We say 'disappeared'."
I argued that the two had different meanings. "Disappeared" seemed so final. "Gone missing" just meant it was missing for now. Knowing how deadlines work, the plane would inevitably show up right after we sent the paper to press saying it had disappeared.
My whole childhood, I swore, I said things like "Dad, have you seen my new sweater? It's gone missing. Has the neighbor's dog gone missing again? Stupid house keys have gone missing." I looked up references to "gone missing" in American media websites, like cnn.com. "See? CNN uses it..."The headline was changed to "disappeared."
Just for the record: a current marketing strapline used by the IHT is 'cognizant of every country, captive of none.'
Not when it comes to house style.
It's true, they do, but the working presumption behind his comments was that MSM is somehow accurate.
The timesonline.co.uk story about the IHT/Reuters deal was not accurate in its interpretation of the deal, nor its analysis (at least I don't think so), but Oreskes is right: bloggers riff of MSM for sure.
'Will Reuters help NYT fight News Corp.?
A ferocious competitor has just bought his way into your space, and he seems certain to press his newly acquired advantage. What do you do? If you're the New York Times Co., fearing even stiffer competition on the business news front from a Wall Street Journal owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., maybe you look for an ally. That's the gist of this piece from the U.K.'s Times, which says that Monday's deal between Reuters and the NYT-owned International Herald Tribune may pave the way for one between Reuters and the NYT itself. — Kenneth Klee'
That's a bad riff Kenneth.
Here's an IHT reader, Oscar Lee, who 'can't get enough of Tyler Brûlé's charming International Herald Tribune articles (http://www.iht.com/travel). Brûlé is the Editor-In-Chief of my "favourite" [;-)] magazine, MONOCLE.'
Oscar Lee/李奧凱 "Aokai"
Astrological Sign: Sagittarius
Zodiac Year: Boar
Location: Los Angeles/Monterey Park : California : United States
I was born on November 27, 1983. In America people call me Oscar and in Taiwan people call me Aokai, my Chinese name. My favorite colors are white, black and blue. High School: Mark Keppel High School Class of 2002, Alhambra, CA, four years completed. University: Tulane University & USC during the Hurricane Katrina semester Class of 2006, four years completed
"Reuters is in discussion with The New York Times about supplying business news to the American newspaper, after reaching a similar agreement with its sister title the International Herald Tribune .
The tie-ups are designed to augment both titles’ business coverage, in an attempt to fend off the competitive threat from The Wall Street Journal , which is due to be acquired by News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, this week. Mike Oreskes, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Herald Tribune, said that while discussions with Reuters had been going on for several months – before the News Corp takeover of Dow Jones, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, looked likely to go through - “there was absolutely no question” that the move was also preemptive."
What's interesting about this article is the suggestion that somehow the IHT and Oreskes made a deal with Reuters, and only now are the NYT, as if it were some sort of separate entity, going to try and make a similar deal with Reuters.
This is a complete misunderstanding about the relationship between the IHT and the NYT since the NYT took complete ownership of the NYT. It's indeed true that back in the day, the IHT was pretty much left to its own devices, largely as a function of its joint and very much hands off ownership by the WP and the NYT. Essentially the ambition of these owners, then, was a) be a way of putting our journalism in front of international decision makers and hence augment the stature and access of our foreign correspondents b) don't lose more than a million or two dollars.
That loss, split between the two owners could be, de facto, written off as a cost of doing business for their foreign news coverage. A front page interview with President of France, for example, appearing in only the US print editions of the NYT or WP didn't have quite the same impact with the French elite (who, pre the Internet, could not so readily read those newspapers) as reading it over breakfast in their IHT.
How and why things changed is another tale to tell, but now the notion that the editor of the IHT could forge a deal of such importance with Reuters, and somehow the NYT would then come along and piggy back on the deal is absurd.
This deal is a NYT/Reuters deal, being road tested by the IHT.
There is way too much smoke and mirrors about all this, something the media editor of the London Times has fallen for hook, line and sinker.
Note to editors: the NYT don't just OWN the IHT, they RUN IT, editorially, commercially, at every level.
Anyway, here's the quote from Mr Oreskes provided by The Times media editor, just for the record: Oreskes "confirmed that there were “ongoing discussions” about a separate agreement to supply business news to The New York Times. He said that business coverage was critical to his audience: “We believe that the most important story in the world is not politics or sports, but the globalisation of business and of economics and we’ve been trying to upgrade the section steadily to reflect that.”
In plain English: I am not in charge here, speak with New York to get the full story.
But this blog's earlier postings, and that of those like The Buzz Machine, show that bloggers are way ahead of the MSM on this story. The Times of London's media editor didn't get to the real deal on this story until December 11th (as pointed out by The Buzz Machine who had already been ahead of this news curve, and slightly behind this blog's.)
Let's not bicker but get to the story:
Here's The Future of News on the deal:
'Battle for control of the National Conversation: Wall Street Journal on offense, NY Times on defense on business news 12/11/o7
We have seen what may be the NY Times’ (NYT) first defensive maneuver to protect itself against Rupert Murdoch’s plan to unseat it as the leading “national elitist general-interest paper.” A few weeks ago, Murdoch’s tag team of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the NY Post took a swipe at the Sunday NYT Magazine’s luxury advertiser revenues by announcing their own glossy weekend magazines. No reaction from the NYT.
This time, Murdoch again went on the offensive by announcing the WSJ would drop its premium services paywall, now offering for free financial news that is sufficiently valuable that many had previously been willing to pay for it. The NYT is responding by making a deal to publish business news from Reuters, a wire service provider of widely available, commodity, one-size-fits-all news that never would have been sufficiently valuable to attract paid subscriptions. The NYT might be credited with recognizing that aggregated news from others will be critical to competing on the Internet. On the other hand, it will also be necessary to offer readers value-added facts and opinions they cannot get anywhere else. The NYT seems to be going through the motions without quite understanding them, and continuing to lose ground — ground they will never make-up unless some day they decide to play offense.'
And here's another interesting comment on The Buzz Machine by one of it's readers:
'Interesting, also, that IHT has hooked up with independent online magazine Asia Sentinel (www.asiasentinel.com) as way to get in-depth news coverage from Asia.
See the story here: http://www.marketing-interactive.com/news/3956'
What was striking for Kiwi readers of the International Herald Tribune, at least at The Hive ('This blog is dedicated to the monitoring of latest developments in Central, Regional and Local politics from its base in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. The blog is run by a team with unique insights into latest developments. The Hive is not politically aligned, but does support policy that is best for the growth of business and the economy.') was that the IHT's coverage of this important issue got better play in the IHT than most New Zealand newspapers.
The IHT isn't yet printed in Wellington or Auckland - perhaps the moment is ripe.
John Vinocur was in fighting form on this subject in his Politicus column on 10 December, 2007 (On Iran, U.S. stumbles and Europe grumbles http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/10/news/politicus.php?page=1)
This is what he had to say:
‘An unnamed senior official described by The New York Times as close to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN organization often derided as a soft on Iran by the Bush administration, scorned the U.S. agencies' estimate as mushy."To be frank," the official said, "we are more skeptical. We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran."In France, where the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, acting in coordination with Washington, has made vast efforts to enact separate European Union sanctions going beyond those of the UN Security Council, the report was characterized by an expert on nuclear proliferation as occasionally brushing close to the "hallucinatory."’
IHT reader and blogger Arnon Grunberg (http://www.arnongrunberg.com/?post=1237) went one step further, and I think he might be right:
'In my modest opinion the new American National Intelligence Estimate can be only be understood as the result of secret negotiations between the US and Iran.'
Over to you John.
In a emotional resignation statement, released to employees and the media, he claimed that the editorial independence of the IHT was threatened by the NYT ownership and proposed style of management.
What was somewhat laughable about his resignation was the suggestion that the publisher of the IHT had EVER had any control of the editorial content of the IHT: it was always the executive editor who retained complete control over the content of the newspaper, never the publisher and this was undoubtedly something of brake on the business development of the IHT.
Peter was a very affable and charming man, but I remember him best for two meetings I had with him, one which I'll recount now.
Before the NYT took control of the newspaper, the executive board of the newspaper, led by Peter Goldmark, was under relentless pressure from its owners (the WP and the NYT) to cut costs, even at the expense of editorial content.
(In my opinion this drive was led by the NYT's then CEO Russ Lewis as part of a larger strategy to drive down the chances of the IHT ever being profitable in the long-term, so as to make their planned play to force out the WP that much easier.)
Hence a decision was made, by Peter Goldmark, to cut the size of the newspaper from an average of around 20-24 pages to whenever possible, as few as 18, indeed on occasions (Mondays) even smaller. He could have said no, and if there was a time to resign, then surely that was it.
There was outrage from the then editor of the IHT, Mike Getler who had come to the IHT from the Washington Post.
(The tradition had then been that the editorship of the IHT was within the alternating gift of the two owners, a rule that Peter Goldmark, to his credit, succeeded in overturning, when he insisted that the editor after Mike Getler should be appointed not by the WP and the NYT, but by him. He went with David Ignatius when Getler, after just too many battles protecting his news hole, decided to quit and return to the Post where he became the newspapers' Ombudsman.)
Goldmark's cost cutting was relentless, and I am not proud to have been a part of it in my role as worldwide marketing director.
But cutting the news hole to such a thin newspaper was seen not only by Getler, but by both the then advertising director Stephen Dunbar Johnson (now the IHT's commercial supremo), the then circulation and development director Didier Brun, and myself as being a suicidal decision, the paper already being too thin in our opinion to retain credibility with readers and advertisers, without being cut back even further.
I went to SDJ and Brun and said I was going to put in writing my concerns about this cutback, concerns I had already voiced quite vocally to Goldmark, and I asked the two of them, given that they agreed, to be co-signatures to my memo. Both turned down the opportunity. Not discouraged I went ahead, a punchy one page memo that left Goldmark in no doubt as to where I stood, and emailed it to his office.
About one hour later, I was summoned to Goldmark's command post, ushered into his office, there to be met by a stony faced Goldmark and his goffer Richard Wooldridge, at that time the IHT's COO.
I sat down, and awaited some dialogue.
Instead Goldmark picked up a print-out of my memo that lay on front of him on his desk, told me he was now fully aware of my position, and then proceeded, in front of me, to slowly and deliberately rip up my memo into small pieces, all the time holding direct eye contact with me, and throw it in the rubbish bin.
I was then told that the meeting was concluded and asked to leave.
I had wondered what had become of this champion of the free press, so I was interested to pick up on a Canadian blogger who had the chance to hear him speak.
Nancy Schwartz had heard Peter Goldmark speak on the subject of Why Communications Advocacy Should Remain #1 on Your To Do List
Goldmark is now Director of the Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense (ED) and was speaking at the Philanthropy’s Sweet Spot Forum, co-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Stanford Social Innovation review.
Schwartz writes that she 'was confronted (yet again) last week with a pointed reminder of one of philanthropy’s biggest Achilles’ heels the often overlooked or misunderstood importance of integrating innovative communications strategies into every program. '
"Obviously," she wrote, "Goldmark is one smart guy who knows how to engage his audience."
I think I would agree with the latter observation, and generally with the former, but how he handled the NYT takeover of the IHT, his time as IHT Publisher and the manner of his departure was anything but smart.
According to a student blogger from the London School of Economics, the leading clue is your news consumption, and not surprisingly it includes the International Herald Tribune.
She also has a fun questionnaire on other clues as to your addiction. Check it out at Life Inkorporated - http://life-ink.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
This is by no means a complaint. The growing strength of Hitler, reported regularly in In Our Pages on page 2 (take the edition of Monday, 10 December as an example - 1932 - Revolt in Hitler Party) makes chilling reading.
However Monday's piece, about the revolt of 'Gregor Strausser' and his been granted 'three weeks of absence' made me think more closely about the role newspapers play in writing the first rough draft of history. Reading the account of the revolt one would think that under Hitler's regime, the future of the insurgents mentioned would have been short.
Firstly, I couldn't think who 'Gregor Strausser' was (IHT; 10 December, 2007) , so I turned to a reference book (Who's Who in Nazi Germany, by Robert S. Wistrich, published by Routledge) and couldn't find a Gregor Strausser.
I did see Gregor Strasser, Reichsorganisationlieter from June 1932, who indeed quit the Nazi party in December 1932, after being offered on 7 December the post of Vice-Chancellor and Prime Minister of Prussia by the new Chancellor , General von Schleicher. Strasser however did not want to quit from the Party, 'nonetheless advocated Nazi toleration of von Schleicher's cabinet, which infuriated Hitler who had insisted that he refuse the offer.' (Source: Who's Who in Nazi Germany.)
I think the Paris Herald Tribune, as it was known at the time, may have misspelled Strausser. Can we expect a correction shortly in the IHT, or does the first rough draft of history stand on its own merits as exactly that - wrong.
Strasser not surprisingly ended up murdered in the Night of the Long Knives.
As for the others, Feder was dismissed from the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1934 and returned to private life. He died in Upper Bavaria in 1941 (b 1883).
Wilhelm Frick, for an 'insurgent', did rather too well. He became Minister of the Interior a year later, in 1933, a post he held until 1943. He not only drafted the laws that culminated in the Nuremberg race laws, but also the legal framework for the Night of the Long Knives purge of his fellow insurgent, Strasser. Frick refused to testify at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII and was hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.
Alfred Rosenburg also went on to terrible things, and was duly hanged, along with Frick, at Nuremberg.
This extract from the Herald 75 years ago, shows just how misleading the first drafts of history can be, if not simply plain wrong in the case of Gregor 'Strausser'.
Again it's worth quoting in full, with my observations in bold that are missing from the IHT's own coverage and which I have already touched upon in this blog before George Gutowksi at his blog.
Bottom line, numerous blogs and adage.com, just to cite one example of a more MSM outlet, are exposing the sham that is the IHT's business coverage of its own story.
Reuters on International Herald Tribune; Noise, Content or Just Market Share
Reuters Group (RTRSY) soon to be acquired by Thomson Corp (TOC) has displaced Bloomberg LP and will now be providing content to the International Herald Tribune which is also now owned by New York Times (NYT). The deal is interesting because the revenue model calls for Reuters to participate in advertising revenues that the business news section of IHP generates. Before Bloomberg just received a syndication fee and cashed their cheques. [IW: Actually it's not certain that Bloomberg was banking any cheques at all; rather they may well have been sending them to the IHT, and putting the cost under the marketing and promotion budget] Reuters and IHP/NYT all compete with Dow Jones/WSJ and News Corp (NWS) so there is a certain alignment of battle order as troops are moved around the competitive landscape. What is interesting is that Bloomberg has allowed itself to be replaced. Did Bloomberg not believe in IHP's ability to generate ad revenues? Is Bloomberg news that different than Reuters news, in the IHP context? We are talking headlines and the first few paragraphs of the real story. This is a fairly nice place for NYT to experiment with the model and develop a savvy if there is one to be developed. Does NYT not have their own business news division. I know I know not all news gathering services are the same and there is a certain amount of under coverage in one area that another service may be well positioned to cover off.I am not convinced that the Reuters contribution will have a measurable impact on IHP. There was some smoke obscured commentary about still relying on their own staff and writing the same amount of stories.But its all about "Follow the Money" and no information was released about the money. So how does the business reader follow the story?
Nat Ives, writing for Adage.com managed to hit several nails on the head (already tapped before by this blog - Mr. Oreskes are you reading it yet?)
Here's what he had to say (I have put in bold issues already covered by this blog):
'The International Herald Tribune and Reuters have formed a partnership to collaborate on business news, possibly strengthening their position just days before Rupert Murdoch closes his acquisition of Dow Jones -- and escalates an arms race among international media. Starting Jan. 7, the Herald Tribune's business sections in print and online will be renamed "Business With Reuters" to reflect the origin of its content, which also will be available through Reuters terminals and the Reuters site. The new partners did not mention News Corp.'s pending purchase of Dow Jones and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal, but the deal isn't far from the mind of anyone in the news business. Dow Jones shareholders are expected to finally ratify it in a vote scheduled for Thursday. And Mr. Murdoch has said he plans to use his new properties to go after The New York Times, whose parent company owns the IHT.'
If there is a true separation of business interests and editorial at the IHT, then this is the sort of stuff Carajaval undoubtedly knew and COULD have written, but for reasons we don't know, did not.
The IHT has two in-house journalists of its own (as distinct to NYT correspondents) that cover the media brief - Eric Pfanner and Doreen Carvajal.
But Doreen's piece in the Monday Business Section headlined IHT and Reuters forge business news alliance (Monday, December 10, 2007, page 11 http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/10/technology/reuters10-web.php), which is after all the day when the business section leads with Media and Communications, was really very little more than a rehash of the Reuter's and NYT's own press releases.
(As of time of posting the IHT corporate site is yet to post any press release themselves; the NYT have this up http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=105317&p=irol-pressArticle&ID=1085931&highlight=).
The quote from Mike Oreskes that Carvajal went with is a direct lift from the NYT press release:
"We are inventing something new and exciting for both our audiences. We are combining the very best of two of the best journalistic organisations on earth to produce a global report on finance, economics and business of the highest calibre. It is difficult to imagine a moment when this matters more. "
Might not it have been possible for Doreen, who no doubt knew of the plans in advance, to have got something from Oreskes that no else could (they do after all work in the same building) but largely her article's approach can be found in any number of places, where journalists have cobbled together NYT and Reuter's Press releases.
Her piece provided NO wider competitive set or marketplace context beyond the IHT, the NYT and Reuters. She couldn't or wouldn't even report what happened to the Bloomberg deal. That's not very valuable.
So, naturally, instead of being indispensable, anyone really interested in this story turned to other MSM, the internet and the blogosphere to find our some more insights.
Carvajal and Pfanner need to be given a free hand to report on this deal as they see fit. But are they free to do so? Probably not.
This is a clear conflict of interest in the business reporting and one that previous IHT editor Mike Getler was always unhappy about, when asked to print stories of various IHT publishing partnerships in his pages. He did so, but begrudgingly I think.
Those days are gone, and as the stakes get higher, and the IHT attempts to position itself as a reliable source for media and communications business news, but finds itself at the centre of the story, something needs to be done.