Saturday, 19 January 2008
So, if you are a reader of this blog, and you haven't voted on the various polls to share with us who you are, why don't you do so now.
No one will know, and by the way, I know I have more than 4 regular readers at the IHT so no need to be modest.
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.
a) Does the blog terminationforcause know something we don't?
b) Who is SDJ - check it out at http://www.ihtinfo.com/pages/p_executives.html
c) Has a press release been sent out? Undoubtedly. The WSJ got something out 3 hours ago, about 16 hours behind the first blog posting (this one), about 15 hours behind the next blog postings. So much for MSM.
Is the press release up on the www.iht.com press room with a revised masthead? No.
Bad organisation, a rapid decision, or the just trying to keep things secret to the last minute?
d) Here's what the WSJ has to say about it all -
If you have news and views, don't write to to Emily Steel at email@example.com, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 18 January 2008
a) Michael Golden is stepping down as publisher of the IHT;
b) Stephen Dunbar-Johnson is becoming the new publisher.
That all happened this morning at 10.30 at a meeting scheduled by Golden yesterday for this morning in Paris (rumours were flying last night of impending lay-offs). And no, I don't have a mobile phone with which I can update my blog.
Golden is going back to NY to be VP for International Development or Strategy or something with the word international in it (never a healthy sign at the NYT for you career - normally means you are being booted off to Paris because you didn't make the cut for the top slots in NY or in the case of Didier Brun, who had the word international in his job title, booted off the paper).
SDJ, a 40-something Brit, is to become the second ex-FT, Brit to become publisher of the IHT.
My sources told me he looked visibly aged at the meeting but they weren't sure if this was because they hadn't seen him in the flesh for a while or if the announcement had had a dramatic physical effect on him (all of Brun's hair turned grey and then more or less fell out within a year or two of being made Circulation Director, so there's a lesson there).
What does Golden's departure tell us?
Well, firstly he's one hell of an expensive cost on the IHT bottome line, shortly to be flying off in a(nother) expensive first class flight to NY and his luxury apartment can be turned over to Stephen.
Actually, I doubt SDJ will get the apart. - sadly for him, this isn't the Paris Mayor's office, but Golden sure can't have been a cheap item to have on your P&L: a NYT family member serving as the company's ambassador to Europe in the guise of actually running the IHT, paid for by the IHT.
Interestingly, in the meeting when this announcement was made, and a host of positive figures were wheeled out about increases in advertising (read luxury) and steady circulation (read everyone else's is going down, so that's good) staff were informed by SDJ that the paper was now within a hair's breath of profitability.
I'd be interested to know if that statement was predicated on Golden now being off the cost column OR if the budget for next year can be revised upwards to break even, now that Golden is gone.
Why they had a commercial supermo (SDJ) and a publisher (Golden) was beyond me, but then it was beyond me why they also at one point had Golden (Publisher), Wooldridge (COO) AND TWO very expensive senior execs (Didier and Stephen).
When all that was needed was one smart guy at the top with the clout to deliver.
They now have one smart guy, but the question is, does he have the clout to deliver?
The first question the new publisher was asked in this morning's meeting was:
"What's your strategy?"
SDJ replied, in short, "more of the same": namely cut more costs, sell more advertising, and maintain a steady circulation.
We could spend some time arguing whether that constitutes a strategy or a tactic (a strategy being a plan to meet a long term aim, which I have to presume is a certain level of profitibality) but all I am going to say for now is that no, that's not a strategy, and selling more advertising next year is going to be very hard.
(Nor by the way, is a strategy being thankful that the paper, as a non-financial one like its competitors the FT and the WSJ, is less exposed to downturns in subprime-busted financial advertising budgets - not that in fairness SDJ claimed that as a strategy, more a passing snippet of morale boosting good news. Luxury IS good because all those people who run those sovereign wealth funds bailing out Merril Lynch et al, well they all read the IHT, apparently).
As to sharing with you all what the strategy should be; well that would require me to spend a lot of time typing out ideas to be read by the paper's competitors (not something I really want to do as they probably haven't got a really good one either and I don't want to put the paper I love on the back foot).
What I will say is this:
Unless the publisher of the IHT is given the clout to force the editor to synchronise the content of the paper with the interests of the readers that the publisher is pursuing, and hence the advertisers the publisher is pursuing, the publisher will fail and so will the IHT.
Yes, that means telling the editor what the publisher wants - no, let me be clear: NEEDS - and the editor delivering it.
This has NEVER been the case at the IHT, not even under Golden who was a family member.
Goldmark claimed that power, which was of course laughable and what made his resignation and accompanying speech so embarrassing.
I am not talking about the publisher's interference in how individual stories are covered and the end of church and state structures and walls.
I am talking about publisher and editor being on the same STRATEGIC page.
As the editor is not involved in keeping costs down, selling more advertising, or keeping circulation steady the editor is not, by default, involved in this declared strategy of the newspaper and the guiding star of any strategy - the content of the newspaper - remains outside of the effective strategic control of the publisher.
That has never been a problem back in NY because of the market the NTY operated in, what the NYT brand was and what the competiton was. So no one had to confront this thorny issue. How very convenient, and lovely a position for everyone to preach from.
It wasn't ever confronted at the IHT either because the IHT never had to make money. Now apparently it does.
But, things have changed.
Mr. Murdoch's editors are his publishers in all but name. That's why by and large he succeeds. Does Col Allen at the NYPost have to worry about a publisher? No. Does the publisher jump at what Col wants? Yes. Why? Because Col is News Int all the way and that means, even as an editor, he is intimately concerned about how the NYPost can increase circulation and make more money. That is his No. 1 priority, not how many Pulitzers he wins.
These things are not the No. 1 priority of Mr. Oreskes or any IHT editor.
For results, please compare performance of these two newspapers.
So, for now, I wish SDJ well: he's his own man, he's bright, affable, honest, direct and CRUCIALLY for the first time in the history of the IHT we have a publisher who:
a) hasn't just got off the boat from NY or London and is faced with an enormous, minimum 2 year learning curve just to work out where the loos are, nor how to hold his knife and fork in upscale European company;
b) he IS an IHT reader to the very bone;
c) he is the first publisher meeting points a and b above who is expected to make the paper make money.
In fact, providing his appointment isn't just window dressing (where he has no policy or strategic say at all), I would rate today's news as about the most important thing to happen at the IHT since the WP were pushed out.
And it has been a long time coming.
If they could skip a generation of editors over night and put in charge as editor someone of SDJ's age and sensibility like Crampton, Fuller Carjval, Kanter (who also doesn't get off the boat from Manhattan) then things could really motor, but here I dream....
Back to reality: does he have the strategic say, and if he does, does that include leverage over the editorial direction of the newspaper?
If all of those boxes can be ticked, then it's a very happy day for the IHT.
"I think the IHT is the best newspaper in the world and I have always thought so," he said today in the meeting, and I agree with him.
But he, the NYT company and the IHT are still going to need one of those strategy thingies.
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
I'd add one other new course:
How to write conditional information, because unless newspapers find a way to do this, their "24 hours after the event news cycle" will doom their print product to go the way of clippers instead of transitioning into steam ships.
Both were still boats, the fundamental hull technology hadn't changed (in this case, that might be print): what changed was the on deck and screw technology.
In recent weeks, my blog at http://www.TheFutureOfNews.com and my articles at PajamasMedia.com have tackled a number of controversial issues. Titles have included 'Murdoch gives the NY Times a trojan horse for Christmas: Bill Kristol’s new weekly column,' 'We're all in the entertainment industry now. Journalists, too!,' 'You’re fired! The Media doesn’t get to pick the Democratic nominee anymore,' and 'New group forms: J-School deans against a free press.' (See the column on the right side of my blog to find these). Below, I've included an article addressing a question many of us now have -- what should journalism schools now be teaching? Enjoy!
Washington University in St. Louishttp://www.TheFutureOfNews.com
WHAT JOURNALISM SCHOOLS SHOULD BE TEACHING
(Originally published at PajamasMedia.com, January 2, 2008)
Should those seeking careers in news go to journalism school? Can today’s j-schools — with faculties that consist almost entirely of Old Media experts and practitioners, courses about conventional media tactics, and premises built upon now-failing models of objectivity and verification — prepare students for the new world of New Media? Of course not. Here’s a list of courses that j-schools should be teaching.
Introduction to Journalism: Back to the Future — Journalists mistakenly believe that news has been continuously evolving toward better forms when, in fact, we are in the midst of a century-old "fad." In the early 1900’s an attempt was made to transform journalism from the rough-and-tumble craft it had always been to a science producing verified, objective, unbiased truths. This now-laughable proposition was sustainable only while technology, economics, and government regulation limited the number of challenging voices. This course will cover the last 600 years in search of business models to which we will return. It will focus on the days before the printing press when news was spread by word of mouth and, like today, everyone was a potential creator, editor, and distributor of news.
Remedial Studies: The Role of the Press in America — With the Internet now allowing everyone to exercise their freedoms of expression, a clear understanding of the Founding Fathers’ vision for the press is essential to success in news. This course will teach the correct interpretation of the First Amendment — that just as everyone has the right to speak their views (freedom of speech), everyone also has the right to publish their views (freedom of the press). This amendment did not grant elite status and special rights to a clique known as “the press,” which did not exist as we now know it at the time the amendment was drafted. The course will also analyze Thomas Jefferson’s wishes that newspapers serve as a “fence” to prevent government from encroaching on individuals’ lives. This will correct journalists’ common practice of “jumping the fence” by presenting government as benevolent and the people’s private sector as the greatest threat to our freedom, swapping the ideas of Jefferson for those of Marx.
Business for Journalists — Many journalists have become disoriented, losing track of where they fit into our economy. Some believe they are engaged in a public service, a branch of government, or an activist movement. This course will clarify that virtually every journalist works in the private sector for organizations that must maximize profits. This knowledge will be helpful in the workplace, as journalists may from time to time wish to avoid declaring independence from the demands of their employers, stockholders, business competitors, and acquiring corporations. The course will also highlight that their audiences consist of “customers who are always right,” and not “citizens who must be spoon-fed what journalists believe.” In a work-study portion of the course that teaches the humility required for providing customer service to average Americans, students will be required to clean the public toilets in a Wal-Mart.
Technology for Journalists — As technology advances, journalists will be both enabled and required to be self-sufficient. This class will teach journalists how to use a variety of independence-granting technologies such as search engines, content management systems, social computing, and video cameras. Would-be photojournalists who believe that ordinary breaking news requires extraordinary cinematographic excellence will be encouraged to apply to the film school.
Creative, Entertaining, and Very Short Writing — As everything now known as “media” converges to the Internet, journalists will soon be competing for audiences against former newspapers/TV news, prime-time programming, movies, video games, blogs, and even porn. Many now-common styles will not remain competitive, including the use of serious and faux-authoritative tones, the pretense of objectivity, and “inverted pyramid” articles that become increasingly trivial and boring the deeper one reads. This course will explore a variety of alternative and entertaining styles, including humorous, warm, crusading, inspirational, empathetic, and titillating. Students will also learn how to write catchy headlines and compelling text in 300 words or less, recognizing the mouse-trigger-happy character of news consumers.
The Argument Clinic — Journalists must stop using their mastheads as shields, and engage their audiences in civil debate to defend the accuracy of their facts and the validity of their opinions. This course will teach journalists how to differentiate left vs. right thinking, recognize their own biases, and treat critics as customers to be persuaded, not moral or intellectual idiots. Students will be re-educated to understand that “bias” is not a four-letter word, but a new way to attract audiences as news transitions to a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas.
Until such a curriculum exists, J-schools will be, as journalist Ted Koppel once said, “an absolute and total waste of time.” They will also be a place where old dogs teach obsolete tricks.
Steve Boriss blogs at The Future of News. He works for Washington University in Louis, where he is Associate Director of the Center for the Application of Information Technology (CAIT) and teaches a class called “The Future of News.”
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
What they don't do is cover the blogosphere, so here's a rough and ready look into how a different, and perhaps more interesting measure might be used to gauge how the IHT is doing as an opinion former: who is blogging about what and how many bloggers are using the IHT as their source in a 24 hour period.
I admit this quick study isn't as thorough as it could be, and no blog search engine is perfect, but it gives you the general idea. Of what? That of the millions of bloggers out there, only a few hundred use the IHT as a source. That could be a problem for all MSM: A comparative analysis with the WSJ, the FT and The Times of London would be interesting, but I'm not on the job (hourly rates available).
A pretty clear hierarchy of interest emerges and, from my regular daily trawls of the blogosphere and the IHT's place within it, the 24 hour period I looked at this afternoon is about representative.
AFRICA/EU ILLEGAL FISHING/MIGRATION 5
California wants to control home thermostats 5
anti-whaling ban 3
Virgin Atlantic sets February flight to test biofuel 2
EU Considers Banning The Import Of Certain Fuel Crops 2
GM buys stake in ethanol made from waste 2
Artic melting 1
Deforestation in Indonesia. 1
India's biggest IPO raises $3 billion in a minute for Reliance Power 1
Britain will next week be told by Brussels to increase its use of renewable energy at least six-fold by 2020 1
SPORT (any - 24)
Bush in Middle East 3
Al-Qaeda Machine Guns 3 Children Gathering Chestnuts 2
EU/US Market regulation 2
Militant groups slip from Pakistan’s control 2
US concerned over China military build-up, Taiwan: admiral 2
Dynastic Politics at Work" by HDS Greenway 1
Madeleine Albright Piece 1
Spanish government calls general elections for March 9 ... 1
Moscow vs.Britain 1
United States fleet/Iran 1
Colombia hostages 1
AP Interview: Georgian justice minister says election reflected ... 1
the value of India’s trade with other Asian nations 1
US commerce chief urges passage of SKorean trade deal 1
New EU rules to speed up food safety approval for exotic fruits ... 1
MICRSOFT/EU Probes - 4
Amazon.com is challenging French competition law 3
MySpace and US states form deal to deter child predators ... 1
Gawker fans are posting comments claiming that the hit news-media gossip site is losing its cultural relevance. 1
Zynga developing games for social Web sites (International Herald 1
Radiohead finds sales, even after downloads 1
rat heart 1
US Primaries 8
Achieving equality for cats 3
Identity theft 1
Kansas legislature to see proposal to condemn gangsta rap 1
Health care 1
SUB-PRIME/CREDIT CRUNCH (9)
Credit card debt 5
Citigroup - 3
Home Capital Group Inc. to announce fourth quarter results 1
Can the global commodities boom survive a US recession ... 2
Profit drops at Samsung Electronics 2
Raising prices enhances wine sales 1 Real Estate 1
how cosmetics firm test products 1
CHINA (5)Yu Dan and China's return to Confucius 1
NBA forms NBA China to handle business interests in China 1
China remains a relatively poor country (rural poor story) 1
China automakers keep their eye on US market 1
ASIA -Not including China (6)Indonesia's Suharto 3
the state of India's transport system 1
Elephants roaming Bangkok 1
US in Iraq until 2018? 2
Sarkozy and the press 4
Merkel stresses German stance on ... 1
CELEBRITY (any) 5EDUCATION (5)
Education overhaul shakes up German universities 2
The 'crisis' of US education 1
To Palestinians: Study To Know Your Opponent - You May Like Their ... 1
Internet opens elite colleges to all 1
Kenya’s recent outbreak of violence 2
ABOUT THE IHT (2)
2 (IRobert Fisk and one THINK! post)
HUMAN RIGHTS (2)
story of the Saudi girl from Qatif 1
Combatants for peace 1
BURBBERY’S CHRISTOPHER BAILEY TALKS WITH SUZY MENKES 2
But Axel is still going strong, here quoted by a Libe Blog on Sarko's press management style.
Monday, 14 January 2008
There are no official figures on the number of Americans residing outside of the United States because of the difficulty in keeping track of a largely transient group, some of whom do not alert officials that they have moved overseas. Estimates from both political parties put the number at six to seven million.
At 6.5 million, that would make a conglomeration of the U.S. citizens living abroad the 13th most populous state just ahead of Massachusetts, but the Democrats living abroad will get just 22 delegates, the same number as South Dakota and just 5 percent of the California delegation. California is the most populous state in the United States, with 35 million residents; South Dakota is the 46th, with 750,000 residents.
So here's the thing:
Advertisers don't like the IHT because they perceive it is being read by expat Americans (plenty of evidence of that in the blogosphere) but from a circulation sales and marketing point of view the International Herald Tribune, assuming a circulation of around 240,00o and let's say 2.5 readers per copy, then penetration, at thes figures is around 600,000, that is to say at an upper level of 10%.
How do these figures stack up with NYT national edition penetration of the USA and the NYT NY edition penetration of the NY area.
I can't be bothered to do the maths but if anyone can, please post a comment.
I guess the question is if the penetration really isn't that good, relative to absolute population estimates comparative to say various European nationals and the NYT, could we just ditch all the NYT editorial, American opinion and College Footballl and all move off to more profitable pastures as The World's Daily Newspaper before the WSJ/Times of London combo steals the prize from under the IHT's nose?
Despite a decade of criticism, worker abuse persists in China
Prize Giver: http://sindicalista.blogspot.com
This is an organizer's journal on union organizing, movement politics, and long-term vision. It is for fantasizing about future strategies and debating current tactics. I'm using the Spanish word "sindicalista" both for its resemblance to the English word "syndicalist" (meaning a believer in syndicalism or anarcho-syndicalism, a brand of anti-capitalist ideology with which I loosely identify) and for its literal translation: "trade unionist."
He writes that:
On 19 January 1980, the International Herald Tribune reported that the Shah had said, two years before he was overthrown, that he had heard from two different sources connected with oil companies that the regime in Iran would change.
Can anyone in the IHT Library confirm or deny this, because he doesn't provide a link or an article?
Each day, we read the International Herald Tribune, which is conveniently delivered to our door. Lately it has been filled with awful stories of Kenya (the deadly election outcome readily contrasted by the soap-opera-style campaigns in the US) and goings-on in various places around the globe where we are blessed by birth not to live. On the back page of the weekend paper is the art exhibition section, where we find information about the safe haven in which we live: there are shows at the Mauritshuis (a 5 minute walk from our home) and at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which we visited today on a whim. I'm not really sure what to say here or where I'm going with all this, except for the fact that every once in a while getting such a stunning reminder of how beautiful and doggone easy your life really is deserves at least a moment's pause, if not serious recognition.