Tuesday, 24 June 2008

More employee reaction

What's rumour, what's truth, what's journalism, what's blogging?


This is a big news day for those interested in the IHT and my email inbox is getting stuffed. Let's have some fun.

Here's a summary of the main points I'm hearing from multiple IHT sources around the world.

  • The web merger was predicted by nearly everyone but was only KNOWN by NYT-staffers (for ages and was just recently and rather vaguely revealed to the IHT-staffers);
  • Apparently this section from Doreen's article/IHT press release/what's the difference/ IS NEWS TO THE PEOPLE WORKING AT IHT.COM.

"Web designers are preparing a new digital architecture for the Herald Tribune, with six to seven international sections, including business, culture, sports, luxury and travel."

  • It's being said by people throughout the company - how they know, I don't know - that the iht.com team read about this new digital architecture when we all did. They must feel terrific and highly motivated.

    If this is true, then we can conclude one of two things:
  • that 100% of the above-mentioned "preparation" has taken place in New York, unbeknown to anyone on the IHT.com web team. Good to see NY tapping into all the IHT's international experience and savvy. Again, it reminds me of Rumsfeld's secret intelligence gathering office he ran out of the Pentagon, not feeling the need to touch base with either State, the NSA, the CIA or the Chiefs of Staff. And that all worked out extremely well.
  • OR - web designers have not yet started preparing the above mentioned architecture, and when they will, they will consult with iht.com people. (Incidentally: who at nytimes.com has any experience of running a news site outside of the U.S.A? Would be kinda handy to have some European and Asian experience on board for the big international push. Or maybe not? I keep coming back to Iraq metaphors....)

  • Thankfully I'm not a part of this corporate takeover (and boy did I get out in time) but it strikes me that this level of internal secrecy is rather alarming. I fully understand the contstraints of French law when planning re-strucuturing (firing people) and the obligation to 'consult with workers' representatives before making any final decision: let's be clear here - what this means is that as a result of the integration, the IHT's web operations will probably be 'moved' to NY, being 'closed' about half way accross the pond during the 'move'); but not to talk to the iht.com web team about all this? If it's true, that's pretty out there, and doesn't show much trust.

  • If it is true that the http://www.iht.com/ team weren't consulted (and if anyone can confirm it, I would appreciate it) then the NYT seems to want to start from zero because the thinking would be that it's easier to start with nothing.

  • If they go that route with any potential International NYT, that would put a few people's backs out. (Although it's not at all clear that ditching www.iht.com is a forerunner to ditching the IHT brand - one doesn't follow on from the other. In fact, it's even possible they could do both - keep the IHT AND publish an INYT. Little would surprise me.)


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