Saturday, 19 January 2008

Adman as Publisher of International Herald Tribune

SDJ, the new publisher of the International Herald Tribune comes from a solid advertising background, working his way up the ranks at competitor the FT to head of UK Advertising. The current head of the NYT Company (the extraordinarily power-coiffured Janet, rather like SDJ) is also an ex-ad sales person, so all jokes about ad sales people being dumb must now be checked at the door. Seems they are doing rather well at the NYT, even if the NYT isn't doing so well itself.

There is precedent to the IHT having a Brit as publisher in its recent history - ex-FT man Richard McClean. He didn't get the top job at the FT and took the IHT instead. His main achievements were growing circulation in any way possible - bulk -, opening local offfices (which had proved so successful for the FT) and starting the publishing partnerships. He came from an advertising background too.

The question posited in my earlier posting about all this, is will Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, have any serious decision making clout?

According to the WSJ report, based on the missing IHT but existing NYT press release, SDJ "executive vice president of the International Herald Tribune since 2006, will succeed Mr. Golden. Mr. Dunbar-Johnson, who has worked at the International Herald Tribune for 10 years, will report to Mr. Golden and Scott Heekin-Canedy, president and general manager of the New York Times."

The old dual reporting problem, eh?

Heekin-Canedy comes from a strategic planning background I think. I seem to have a very vague memory of having a coffee with him in the NYT canteen once upon a time, thinking he was rather bright, but clueless as to international publishing (and at that time, disinterested). That was all a long time ago however...

My guess is SDJ will have decision making clout not by virtue of his position (two reports removed from the head of the NYT Company) but by the fact that:

a) he no longer has to report to the head of advertising at the NYT (one can only begin to imagine what a frustration that was);

b) to have decision making clout at the NYT Company one has to have good ideas to make decisions about, and the person most likely to come up with them re. the IHT is SDJ, so he will have the clout by default, irrespective of any reporting lines.

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