Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Employee Reaction re. Web: General Vibe

What seems striking judging from some of the emails I have received (and this reminds me of days of old, not just the current regime) is a prevailing atmosphere of secrecy and turf-wars surrounding nothing more than the free flow of information over simple business activities.

There are people who (rightly) seem to buy into SDJ's claims to fight Rupert's expanding empire, but the amount of decision making made either by an elite few in NY or Paris, and not by a wider IHT group, has surprised myself and others.

No one doubts that the IHT is going to go the route I blogged about around May 10th, of the BBC or CNN domestic/international models, but what is not known, or at least not shared with staff, is what affect this will have on online readership.

(I heard that IHT.com was rumoured to have posted its best traffic numbers ever in May, and consistently posts month-to-month gains, so you tell me?)

Here are the questions people are batting around, not all of which I agree with, or find that relevant:

Is it just Manhattanitis that wants the NYT want to put their stamp on everything - if it's not making us any or much money we might at least as well have the benefit of the brand exposure?

Is NYTimes just too, well, New York, and that will turn off both international readers and advertisers? (As a reader that's what my wife thinks - she regards nytimes.com as virtually unreadable from a design point of view.)

Who really gives a damn if my wife stops visiting www.iht.com and doesn't go to nytimes.com? They're aren't enough people like her to outweigh the cost-saving and brand advantages of running the show out of New York.

There is real fear that all iht.com jobs in Paris are on the block. (And they can't be cheap.) But that's not what the real fear is. The bigger fear are the newsprint jobs if iht.com going goodbye is a taste of things to come.

How will the web strategy play out? No one seems to know: some (few) people claim to hold access to stragegy and intelligence about this but that isn't being shared (yet) with all senior IHT staffers. In short, what's up Doc?

I think that about captures the general tone of what I am hearing. More later.


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