Friday, 25 January 2008

Reuters Media Reporter Goes to WSJ

Reuters media reporter Robert MacMillan is leaving the wire service for what we’re assuming is a bigger payday at Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. In an email to colleagues, he writes that he’s becoming “their publishing beat reporter, which means Iwill continue to write about the business of and the future of journalism. I have no contact information yet, but will write when I do.” He starts February 4. http://www.jossip.com/wsjs-media-reportage-is-about-to-20080125/

Murdoch: WSJ.com won't go all free (AP)

AP - Rupert Murdoch said Thursday that The Wall Street Journal will continue to charge a fee for full access to its Web site, and indicated that those charges may go up.

Dow Jones & Co has begun opening access to some previously paid-for items just weeks after the $5.6 billion buyout by News Corp. But Murdoch told a panel at the World Economic Forum annual meeting that there would still be limits.
“We’re sort of dividing it up. Those things that you can get more or less as a commodity on different sites about finance, that will certainly be free at the Wall Street Journal,” he said.
“The really specialised (material) giving the greatest insights, that will still be a subscription service.”


Some people are accusing him of 'chickening out', but this is what his tabloids would have described Thatcher's changes of direction as an unforgiveable U-turn.

Millions of postings on this topic but I rather liked this one:
http://www.kizo.com/2008/dow-jones-execs-talk-murdoch-out-of-dropping-the-paywall/

Old news execs haven't fully got their head around the fact that you can have the greatest quality content on the web, but if you have to pay for, younger people simply WILL NOT DO IT.

All newspaper execs should be oblighed to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon in the rank bedroom of a 11-18 yr old person, watching them rip, burn, steal, rape and pillage everything from movies to music without any moral hesitation, and then come back to the board room on Monday and re-present their ideas on paid content.

'New York Times' to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

Who knows? But these guys think they do...

http://www.newscloud.com/read/90076

Online Marketing Interns - NYTimes.com

Quite an interesting job really.

The qualified candidates will assist the NYTimes.com Marketing team in conducting a competitive analysis of leading online web sites in the Business, Technology, Health and Autos verticals. These individuals will investigate and report on competitors’ internal and external marketing strategies and creative concepts. They will identify the various ad placements, ad positioning and ad technologies utilized by our competitors. Based on this analysis, the interns will recommend online and offline Marketing opportunities for NYTimes.com that will contribute to the growth of site readership and interactivity.
http://www.imediaconnection.com/Jobs/Description.aspx?ID=1780

Is the International Herald Tribune available in Afghanistan

There are lots of democracy and civic institution capacity measuring folk out there, but my No 1 test for any country has always been:
a) Can you freely obtain the IHT without any of the pages been torn out or blocked-out before you get your hands on it?
b) Is the government (like Singapore) going to sue the IHT?

This post made me think of Afghanistan?

Anyone in circulation know if it is available in Kabul, and if so how? Please post a comment if you do.

Afghan journalist sentenced to death for distributing paper 'against Islam'
KABUL, Afghanistan: An Afghan court on Tuesday sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for distributing a paper he printed off the Internet that three judges said violated the tenets of Islam, an official said.
The three-judge panel sentenced Sayad Parwez Kambaksh to death for distributing a paper that humiliated Islam, said Fazel Wahab, the chief judge in the northern province of Balkh, where the trial took place. Wahab did not preside over the trial.


http://journalistjournal-emike.blogspot.com/2008/01/afghan-journalist-sentenced-to-death.html

Getting a handle on who reads the International Herald Tribune

After a month or so or looking once a day at the International Herald Tribune's presence in the blogosphere, the following quote from a blog is unusual:

I’ve been subscribing to the International Herald Tribune (IHT) for about 2 years now. I really enjoy getting it in my mailbox Monday-Saturday, but I have to admit that I don’t always find or take the time to read it in detail. Nonetheless, it just feels good having a solid, hard-copy, newspaper laying around the house. The IHT has a good variety of articles and always makes for an interesting read, especially the ‘Views’ section (editorials and commentary). It’s just a great way to keep up with the latest dealings of the world.

From Jake's Word Count http://metajungle.info/?p=61#comment-7359

I post this banal quote, not knowing who Jake is, because his post is unusual, because, of the 250-300 bloggers who quote the IHT in a 24 period (about the same number for the FT, many more for the NYT and WSJ, which is more of a reflection of the number of bloggers in the U.S.A ), very few of display any signs of a brand relationship with the IHT; it's extremely rare to find people writing about the IHT outside of the media analyst/critic world, or the right wing nuts who say the NYT/IHT has destroyed American culture or the left who say it is a slave of corporatist interests - that and the too pro-Israel gang and the too pro-Palestine gang, but they've been around in the letters pages long before blogging.

Mostly the bloggers are environmental, technology, celebrity and sports fanatics who appear to have an extremely libertine relationship with the IHT. A great deal of what they pick up on is AP feed.

Apart from a reader complaining about a price increase and a very excited reader in Japan receiving their first IHT bill (American) the above comment is about as personal as it has got in the last month.

One searches on the Internet in all sorts of ways for actual IHT regular readers, but they not easy to find. Try putting together a reader endorsement campaign and it's virtually impossible. (Compare how easy the almost never ending FAZ reader endorsement campaign was.)

The print subscription list holds the only truth and if I had a spare bit of marketing cash I would get a tele-marketing firm to find out who they are (nationality, age, occupation). The NYT holds terrific data on its readers, the IHT really very little. But a quantitative analsysis of the subscriber lists has never been done, to my knowledge, even though the names, company names and often phone and email numbers of the subscribers are sitting on the subscriber data base.

The NYT spent what was rumoured to be a million dollars on qualitative reader research when it took over (and found out that, no, it wouldn't be a good idea to throw out the IHT brand equity). They should spend the same on quantitative research now, just so they understand what it is they have in their hands.

Until someone can show me otherwise, my long-held view is that the core readership of the IHT is extremely small and getting on for half of newsstand sales are Americans or people with a specific relationship with the USA.

The reason the IHT business readers don't show up on the business reader surveys is either because they simply are not there, OR, they are mega-rich fashion/celebrity. hedge fund, private banking, sovereign wealth fund types who aren't going to take the time to take part in a reader survey, even if they could be found.

So if you know someone that we would all know of, who is a dedicated and loyal IHT reader, or if you are one yourself, please post here.

Only criteria are that you must not be American and you must be under 65.

If you're an IHT journalist at Davos, please try and snap famous MOU clutching or reading the IHT (and not with FT or WSJ under other arm).

International Herald Tribune has published my op-ed on Afghanistan.

http://carloungaro.blogspot.com/2008/01/international-herald-tribune-has.html

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Just to be clear: Miklos is rich (and then some)

You may recall a recent blog about an International Herald Tribune reader who was stopping purchasing his daily copy of the IHT because of the price increase.
http://ihtreaders.blogspot.com/2008/01/2008-price-increases-at-international.html#comments

This may have given the impression that somewhere out there, there was, heaven forbid, a POOR IHT reader.

Just so we are all clear that ALL IHT readers are High Net Worth Individuals - as SDJ and his gang like to call them, or HNWI - here's a comment on that posting from Miklos, the aggrieved reader:

I can afford a subscription (and then some), so thanks for your appeal on my behalf. But it is a matter of principle for me: I happen to think newspapers should be available for all, hence my decision. I prefer to put the monies saved that way in charities.The same goes, incidentally, for the opera in Paris: its Bastille Opera house was built as a place for the people, but look at the cost of most tickets. It is only such places as the Theatre de la Ville that you can see good plays, see great choreographies and listen to interesting classical and world music at a very affordable price. This reflects in the composition of the variegated public which attends their performances: young and old, rarely if ever overdressed, from many social classes.

But it also proves my long held suspicion that readers of the IHT are not only LOADED (and then some) but cultured, liberal, socially aware, socially ecumenical, left of centre HNWI.

SDJ, there's a business plan in there somewhere to kick the tires on.

Whether they are deeply seized by SUPREME CATWALK LUXURY is another matter, but dammit, who cares?

Suzy is having fun, the girls in the photos look great and anyway, IHT readers could afford to buy the dresses IF THEY WANTED TO, so there!

Lay off Linda

Would newspapers be better off with reader-appointed public editors or ombudsmen or even self-appointed ones like me?

I bet if you stuck this blog on the home page of http://www.iht.com/ it would soon be getting a lot more traffic than a lot of the blogs and reader discussion forums currently on it. (Often the same old people using it as a private chat room: please, someone from http://www.iht.com/, slip me some fun data at ihtreaders@gmail.com, liven things up a bit for readers of this blog.) Admittedly I'd have to actually start giving it some proper attention instead of randomly ranting but you see my point.

If you want community among a dispersed global audience, build it, don't live within your own gated community on a couple of floors in Neuilly.

Neuilly, for God's sake, home of Sarko, hardly the centre of branhce Europe, especially when filled with editors who don't speak French.

Enough. On the subject of public editors...

Lay Off Linda
Why doesn't the New York Times stand up for Linda Greenhouse?

It took some kind of amazing footwork for Clark Hoyt, the New York Times public editor, to pull off what's turning into an annual ritual: dragging the paper's multiple-award-winning Supreme Court correspondent out to the woodshed for appearing to have opinions in her private life or—even worse—sharing a toothpaste tube with those who do.

I have absolutely no idea what all this is about but some of you may be interested. What I do like are these public-editors and ombudsmen, like having an oil exec work for the department of energy on self-regulation in the oil industry.

http://www.slate.com/id/2182077/nav/tap3/

Damn, I knew I should have gone with Word Press

Times Company in Group Investing in Blog Publisher

Automattic, the commercial arm of the popular WordPress publishing platform for blogs, has received $29.5 million in financing from four companies, including a small portion from The New York Times Company.
WordPress is open-source software used by bloggers to publish posts. Its chief competitors are Blogger (owned by
Google) and TypePad (owned by the software company Six Apart).
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/business/media/23nytimes.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

But then Google buys the NYT Company and then owns a slice of WordPress too.

Oh, it's all too complicated to follow.

How Bill Kristol Landed that 'Times' Gig

The New Republic
The Fifth Columnist by Gabriel Sherman
How Bill Kristol Landed that 'Times' Gig
Date Thursday January 24, 2008

This fall, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. launched a search for a new conservative columnist. It had been nearly three years since William Safire had retired from his weekly column in 2005, and Sulzberger's initial replacement, libertarian John Tierney, lasted just 20 months before abandoning his column. David Brooks remained as the lone conservative voice on the page, and, say people familiar with the younger Sulzberger's thinking, he wanted to hire a lightning-rod conservative, much like his father, Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, had done in appointing Safire in 1973....

For more
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=7b687811-caed-4ded-bda3-66d9c1b11f71

but if you're working to deadline, some quotes:

"In general, he's mediocre. He doesn't seem like the best choice, and the first column was crap."

"My personal opinion is it's an appalling choice," a former veteran Times staffer said of Kristol's appointment. "Not because he's been wrong about so much, but because he called for prosecuting the Times for treason. You're entitled to your opinion, but, in all due respect, go fuck yourself."

"Arthur is scared to death of The Wall Street Journal," the former veteran Times staffer said. "That's what's behind the Kristol appointment."

Ultimately, Sulzberger's selection of Kristol has left many at the Times uninspired by his leadership. "Right now, in terms of the economic anxieties of the newspaper business in general, and the Times in particular, there's a concern that we should be doing things that are exciting and thinking about tomorrow's readers," one senior Times staffer said. "Kristol is a long, long, long established voice. There's no surprise or resourcefulness of enterprise in the choice."

Take the offer

The more I think about, the NYT should probably take the Google Dollar. It's just so outgunned here versus News Int.

Sad but true.

Where is the rotten old bastard taking his latest acquisition?

O.K. I know there are more posts on Think! about the WSJ but this is because I divulge from the received wisdom, which is that Murdoch is true to his word and intends his priority to be directly taking on the NYT, owner of the International Herald Tribune.

My view is somewhat different, and that is that he is in fact not going to be gunning first and foremost for the NYT, nor the FT even, but the IHT.

Put the WSJ inside The Times of London as its business section and you already have the makings of an excellent International Times (already with News Int print and distribution in Europe). On the business reader surveys in Europe the extra 400,000 EBRS readers of The Times that would be delivered to the WSJ would blow the IHT out of the water.

Take more content into that International London Times from his Australian property The Australian, again with the WSJ as its business section, and you have the makings of quite a compelling proposition also for the Asian market.

Then there is the thought that he does an FT in America (not his recent hire of FT NY editor to head up the business section of The Times) and are we looking at him marketing The International Times of London in the United States, given that unlike the NYT originally, the WSJ is already well established as a national title. (Or put The International London Times inside the US edition of the WSJ?)

Plus Murdoch can do something that the NYT/IHT can't - he has a stack load of international television channels to market the his paper so aggressively that the NYT would be obliged to put multi-millions into marketing even to be remembered: Sky, Fox, on the list goes.....

Anyway, more to reflect on here but as an International Herald Tribune reader might you be tempted by

  • Times of London+Australian+ WSJ for business and U.S coverage

or

  • IHT plus Reuters for Business.

Given what is quite a wave of anti-Americanism maybe Murdoch can create a much more truly international newspaper to surf the global wave.

Anyway...some more thoughts from Slate back in early Jan.

Reading the Murdoch Street Journal
Where is the rotten old bastard taking his latest acquisition?
Media scholar Ben Compaine tells me he thinks the Wall Street Journal has begun to reflect the journalistic philosophy of genocidal tyrant Rupert Murdoch, who completed his acquisition of its parent company, Dow Jones & Co., in the middle of December.
http://slate.com/id/2181355/

Make note of reference to The Australian.

WSJ - The End of the A-Hed

The Wall Street Journal, in its guided tour of the newspaper's layout, gives special mention to the A-Hed. This is the front-page feature, once found in the fourth column, now at the base of the third; a home for stories about cooking tips for roadkill or the disappearing holes in Swiss cheese; and the most prized slot in the business newspaper, giving "free rein to our reporters’ imagination." The Journal's writers had better save it for the weekend.
Robert Thomson (the publisher brought in from the UK by the newspaper's new owner, Rupert Murdoch) has flown in the paper's senior editors from its American and international bureaus to break some bad news. Saturday's weekend edition will get an additional two pages, for features, we're told. The implication: on busy news days, at the very least, the Journal will no longer run A-Hed features.
This isn't wholly surprising. The News Corporation boss has already indicated he wants to take on the New York Times in national news...


http://gawker.com/5002170/the-end-of-the-a+hed

Peter Newcomb: Could the Gray Lady Go Googly?

Everyone said the Bancrofts selling to Rupert was a pipe dream too...

Now that Rupert Murdoch owns The Wall Street Journal and Sam Zell controls the Los Angeles Times (and a number of other broadsheets), one can’t help but consider the fate of another struggling daily you may have heard of: The New York Times. When we last checked in with Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. (#93 on Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list), we noted that things weren’t going so swell for the paper of record. “The future of the family business looks increasingly difficult,” we wrote in our October issue. “Revenues continue to slide, the company’s shares have plummeted more than 50 percent in the past five years, and investors are bellowing.”
Well, things haven’t gotten any better. The stock has only fallen further—it’s now down 70 percent in the last five years—and there’s little reason to think that Web sites such as Craigslist won’t continue to steal its classified ad business.
But could help be on the way?
This idea is little more than a pipe dream, but you can’t help but be intrigued by the guy’s argument.

http://www.vanityfair.com/ontheweb/blogs/daily/

When He's 106 Years Old, 'Pinch' Will Let You Read His Letters

Freed0m of information is a great love of the NYT.

Last summer, when The New York Times announced that it had donated its archives to the New York Public Library, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a press release, “We are delighted that the private New York Times archives will become part of the public repository of history.”
At least eventually it will. In a previously undisclosed agreement, The Times and the New York Public Library struck a deal whereby the personal papers of Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger and his son, the current publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., will be kept private for decades; Punch’s would be locked away until 2035, and Mr. Sulzberger’s until 2057, when he’d turn 106


http://www.observer.com/2008/when-he-s-106-years-old-pinch-will-let-you-read-his-letters.

Old Man Murdoch Obsessed with WSJ

Rupert Murdoch is obsessed with his "new toy," the Wall Street Journal, says Andrew Neil, former editor of the U.K. Sunday Times, during testimony in a House of Lords communication committee on media ownership. Murdoch "doesn't want to talk about anything else" but the Journal.
http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=40038

Extreme International Herald Tribune reader excitement in Tokyo

The delivery service that brings us the International Herald Tribune every morning left this for us the other day. I don't think I've ever been so excited to receive a bill.

Find out why at: http://mtokyoblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/mail.html

I didn't.

Visitors to International Herald Tribune Blog

In 24 hours, a little under 100 visitors to Think! - the blog for readers of the International Herald Tribune.

I wonder how this stacks up against some of the www.iht.com blogs?

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Rosenthal and the Business of News, News Analysis and Opinion

Look, I am sure Elisabeth Rosenthal is a really nice person, and I am totally with her green crusade and all the good work she does but when a piece in the International Herald Tribune begins like this, do you think its a news, news analysis or opinion piece?

For most of my too-busy life I thought little about my carbon footprint: disposable diapers and paper plates for my kids. Fly to a meeting, instead of a taking a train. Toss the bottles, the old printer cartridges. Whoosh . . . gone with the trash.
But in the past couple of years of writing about the environment, I have reformed my ways. I have become a militant recycler - pulling cans that have been missorted out of kitchen garbage. I air-dry clothes, instead of using a dryer.
So I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started thinking about green investments. Let's be frank: Given the size of my portfolio, I will have more of an impact on global warming by planting a tree in my courtyard and recycling cans of diet cola than by moving my paltry sum to companies that care about climate change.
But in the name of consistency and doing my bit, I decided to have a look.


Well actually it's apparently a news piece on green investing, but I'm just not comfortable with this journalism.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/22/business/greencol23.php?page=1

If a news piece about the U.S. primaries began with a personal exposition of the journalist's political beliefs and practices, would one read on sure that one was about to be served a helping of the IHT's much prized balanced, objective news reporting?

No.

Why is Rosenthal's well intentioned green writing not getting the same editorial attention which would see a big red pen through the copy I have highlighted, were it indeed a news piece about U.S politics, or any other news matter.

I didn't think the beliefs of a news reporter were supposed to be relevant at the IHT.

This isn't The Daily Telegraph we're reading here chaps, so lets buck up.

International Herald Tribune and the Five Star Alliance

I hope the Five Star Alliance are advertisers in the International Herald Tribune, because they sure are fans of the IHT:

We’re big fans of the blog from the International Herald Tribune. Where to eat the best seafood in Hong Kong? How do the airports measure up in Zurich and Bangkok? For insider tips and recommendations from the folks who know– IHT reporters and editors– check out this invaluable resource. Cities covered include Bangkok, Paris, Hong Kong, Rome, Washington….
http://traveler.fivestaralliance.com/index.php/2008/01/23/globespotters-the-blog-from-the-international-herald-tribune/

Reuters and IHT: Exclusive Alliance - Not

I wonder if the International Herald Tribune would have touted its Business with Reuters deal with quite the air of exclusivity it had about it, had they known that:

a) a few days later, Reuters would announce that they would be providing video content to the the FT
b) a few weeks after that Reuters would announced that they would be providing video content to just about anyone. Here's a headline from Beet TV from Monday:

Reuters to Make the Web News-Video-Rich as it Opens Vast Resources to Online Publishers

http://www.beet.tv/2008/01/reuters-to-make.html?cid=98213514#comment-98213514

I have to presume no-one at the IHT was under the impression this was an exclusive deal, but that is rather how it came accross to us uninformed readers. Me, at least.

Did Alter, Dowd And Healy Mislead Readers On The Clinton-Rose Interview?

I have no idea. Actually, I have no idea why Maureen Dowd so has it in for Hilary Clinton - I missed that one, and never caught up.

Anyway, if you're interested in the answer to question posited by this post then go to
http://mediamatters.org/items/200801210001?f=h_latest
Newsweek's Alter, like NY Times, omitted Rose's on-air explanation for abrupt ending of Clinton interview
Summary: Referencing an interview former President Bill Clinton gave on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote, "During a December taping with PBS's Charlie Rose, a frustrated Clinton called [Sen. Barack] Obama 'a roll of the dice,' as aides tried to end the interview." However, Alter omitted Rose's on-air comments in which he indicated why Clinton's aides wanted to "end the interview."

How many people are reading this blog?

As of 0850 today my stat counter for the International Herald Tribune's reader blog stands at 859. I'll check back in this evening to see what's happening.

Anyone know how to email all iht employees in a single email? I managed to crack the editorial code but can't manage the business side. Any anonymous tips gratefully received as a post or an email to ihtreaders@gmail.com

Thanks.

P.S I am looking for a volunteer copy editor who would come in behind me and tidy up my ghastly grammar and typos. If you're interested....

Rough year ahead for Financial Times?

I can't promise pictures of the FT editor's wife's breasts, but something much better - trouble at FT-mill and yet more takeover gossip, this time from Forbes/

http://www.forbes.com/markets/2008/01/22/pearson-financial-times-markets-equity-cx_ll_0122markets16.html
British media company Pearson is set to close the book on a record 2007, thanks to a seasonal sales boost to its education business, but 2008 could be an entirely different story. Despite promising "record profits" for 2007 in a trading update Tuesday, as well as the strongest year ever for its education business, Pearson (nyse: PSO - news - people ) is largely reliant on the future health of the American economy. Two-thirds of sales come from the United States, and already this month California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced cuts of $4.4 billion to the state education budget.
And as for Pearson's Financial Times media imprint, 2008 could also be a year of change. French billionaire Bernard Arnault, owner of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (other-otc: LVMHF - news - people ), is reportedly on the prowl to acquire the British newspaper, fresh from buying its French sister paper, Les Echos, last year. (See "Credit Agricole's Next Acquisition: A Newspaper?")
"I don't think there is any doubt that Bernard Arnault would love to own the Financial Times," said Usman Ghazi, analyst with Dresdner Kleinwort, suggesting that he could pay as much as £1 billion ($2.0 billion) for the newspaper. "His base is luxury advertisers, and most of the F.T.'s most lucrative advertising is luxury-based…Whether Pearson offloads the F.T., however, is a completely different question."

LVMH (luxury brand) taking over FT (perceived luxury brand).

SDJ? Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Wives Of The Wall Street Journal

On the subject of Murdoch, free online content and the WSJ, here is some gratuitous information from Gawker:

For an old newspaperman, Paul Steiger was pretty open-minded about the web. The long-time managing editor of the Wall Street Journal regards blogs as a great innovation and revolutionary phenomenon allowing readers to hop-scotch across a wide variety of information. Steiger, who retired last year after easing the business paper into the hands of Rupert Murdoch, won't mind then that his third wife has put herself on display to visitors to her own blog. Nor that the revolutionary medium has allowed quests on Google for "wendy tits" and "amazing bosom" to land at the site. "I'm so sick of being admired for my keen mind and dazzling personality," writes Wendy, a jewelry designer who is 25 years Steiger's junior. "It's about time people started loving me for my body." (I'm sure he does.)

Click here if you would like to see Mrs. Steiger's breasts.
http://gawker.com/5002442/wives-of-the-wall-street-journal

On the other hand...Rupert's a fool and Lady Grey Need Not Worry

Of course, this might also be true:

Rupert Murdoch Is Thrice Stupid
http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2007/10/19/rupert-murdoch-is-three-times-stupid.aspx

Might Google buy the NYT?

Now, the writer behind this piece admits that:

I am told by smart people who know the business that the Sulzbergers will never sell; that their identity is the New York Times. It's also said that they take their role as stewards of journalistic "excellence" and "integrity" seriously. They're plenty rich as it is, if not as rich as they once were, so it's not about the money. It's about the Statue of Liberty and justice and righteousness, all of which they feel The New York Times embodies. And I believe that they believe all that.

But anyone interested in the International Herald Tribune just has to read John Ellis' piece yesterday at Real Clear Markets.

Here's a few openers:

In the last five years, the New York Times has declined in value by an astonishing 70 percent. There is no indication that things will get better any time soon. Indeed, as the specter of recession looms, there is every reason to believe that things will get worse. At some point here in the near future, the market capitalization of the New York Times will fall below $2 billion. At that point, a psychological floor will have collapsed and the company will be in play.
The company that has the most to gain from buying the New York Times is Google. If it proffered a Murdoch-like, no-auction bid of $4 billion, wouldn't the Sulzberger family have to accept it? Every single class B shareholder would accept the offer. It's their only exit. It is also likely that Times employees and retirees would enthusiastically support the deal; it's their only exit as well. So it would all come down to whether the Sulzberger family (smaller in number and not as far-flung as the fractious Bancroft clan that owned Dow Jones) would accept the deal.

The choice for the family would be basically this: double your money or double down on "young Arthur," as the NYT's Chairman and CEO is sometimes called. In the back of their minds, the prospect of doubling down on "young Arthur" could only mean that the company's stock will continue its relentless decline. The prospect of doubling up with Google offers realized value, a global platform and thus a much clearer path to future growth. Everyone would be a lot richer than they are now. Assuming a cash/stock transaction, some might be a whole lot richer in the future.

I've seen "young Arthur's" braces and to me, he looks like a man who would take the money. As for Golden, well, he could go back to being a full time potter.

More at:
http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2008/01/might_google_buy_the_new_york.html

Murdoch vs. the NYT: Scooped

the Sibel Edmonds case
For the second time in two weeks, the entire U.S. press has let itself be scooped by Rupert Murdoch's London Sunday Times on a dynamite story of criminal activities by corrupt U.S. officials promoting nuclear proliferation. But there is a worse journalistic sin than being scooped, and that is participating in a cover-up of information that demands urgent attention from the public, the U.S. Congress and the courts.

Those are the words of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked to the press the Pentagon Papers, and who triggered a major shift in public support for the Vietnam war. His op-ed appears on Brad Freidman's vote-watchdog site, Brad's Blog.

http://ljgalasso.blogspot.com/2008/01/sibel-edmonds-case.html

Recession and/or Global Bust: How to play it.

I blogged recently on how the International Herald Tribune and other MSM (top editors naturally not over willing to hype a recession because that means niente advertissimos, and, even with the division of church and state, everyone understands who's paying the bills) are juggling with how to cover the signs of a recession (and or even global bust).

An interesting post about this at http://crossmolina.blogspot.com

WSJ Competes With NY Times for Pessimist Bona Fides
I've noted previously the big shift in the pessimists' line of attack on the economy. It used to be we were headed for doom because the consumer was tapped out. The consumer, however, didn't get the memo so the recession argument was modified to "the banks are tapped out." They won't lend and so we're back on the road to certain economic perdition. The New York Times has led the charge but today the Wall Street Journal does its part (proving yet again, against common perceptions, that the news sections of the WSJ are only slightly differentiable from those of the NY Times) with a front page distress signal that our hard-working, job-creating small business community will be starved of credit.
http://crossmolina.blogspot.com/2008/01/wsj-competes-with-ny-times-for.html

Did the WSJ and the NYT cross the line with Apple?

With advertisers demanding ever more inventive packages and positions, online and off, and with their agencies getting better at online, all credible media have to have their guard up, the International Herald Tribune included.

There is some suggestion that the NYT and the WSJ crossed the line last week with their advertising for Apple and these two blog posts below are not only instructive as to how easy it is to cross that line, but more importantly, that readers notice it and don't appreciate it. Editorial and Advertising at the IHT should read them.


This ad is incredible, but is it a good thing?
I think the Mac ad running on the front of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times (and perhaps others) websites today is the most brilliant online advertising I’ve ever seen. (I also think it’s mean-spirited and insincere, as well, which I mention below — but that’s not the focus of this post.) Hands down, it beats any interstitial ad I’ve ever seen — primarily because I’ve always clicked on the “skip this ad” whenever I’ve seen one. It also beats any “rich media” play-with-a-pencil ad. It beat ads that fly-over editorial content. It beats anything that blocks editorial content. It beats any YouTube “user-generated” ad for that matter. It’s incredible. Most incredible, however, is that it is running on the front page of the Wall Street Journal & New York Times websites.

http://www.rexblog.com/2008/01/17/17448/


Did WSJ.com and NYTimes.com cross the line last week?
Last week, I wrote that while I believed it was brilliant, the animated Apple advertisement that appeared on the front page of NYTimes.com and, especially, the Wall Street Journal website, may have crossed some as-yet-determined line of what is okay — or not okay — with online advertising on news-media websites. In that post, I wrote: “The ad’s headline is in a little ruled box, but it’s in a font that is extremely similar to the actual headlines on the page…it’s obvious to you and me and probably 99% of the WSJ.com and NYTimes.com readers that this is an ad, but if this had appeared in a magazine, well, let’s just say it would have at least needed some clarification or a major ASME bruhaha would be taking place today.” Later, David Kaplan of PaidContent.org noted that the folks at NYTimes.com had decided to limit the giant ads to “once a month.”
I thought by displaying the current news-screaming front page of WSJ.com with last week’s “ad giant” front page may demonstrate why it’s a challenge to experiment with editorial real-estate and conventions that you have trained readers to believe are reserved for only the most major news story. In this case, I think the experiment — despite its brilliance as advertising — needs some re-thinking.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Knocking the Doomsayers

Carter in Davos bitching about the Doomsayers.
http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/doomsayers-in-fashion-this-year/

Problem is, when we do have the 1928 style crash, the MSM coverage of the lead up to it, and the general fence sitting, is going to make Judith/WMD look like small beer.

Personally I think the International Herald Tribune could learn from Davos and the op-ed pages should get some pieces from serious doomsayers, just to get their bases covered.

Something for Copy Editors at the International Herald Tribune

There is a hard core of copy editors at the International Herald Tribune who like their jobs, don't like change, and don't want to leave Paris. This has led to the Paris newsroom as being described as having the atmosphere of a morgue.

Perhaps they are all members of something called The American Copy Editors Society, where they can kick around all their job mobility stories. This one caught my eye...

My first job was at the hometown semi-weekly. They started me in the composing room, where I made up pages and yes, ads. Hated it. As promised, I was promoted to reporter after a couple of months. Had a great time, and learned a whole lot from another generation of journalists. Left there to do the I'm-young,-time-to-see-the-world thing. Left and bought a one-way ticket to Italy, which I'd visited and loved in college days. Learned the facts of life there: The International Herald Tribune and the Rome Daily American weren't hiring, and the wire services had dozens of folks in line for those jobs. It was part of the Common Market, so other jobs weren't available either. When I realized I had just enough money for a return ticket, came back ... but I'm still glad I did it. After a couple of other gigs, wound up at the paper where I'll soon note my 26th hiring anniversary (yes, got a really nice clock last year in honor of my 25 years of service).
http://www.copydesk.org/discussionboard/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=3782#3782

If all else fails, try this.

Here's top of the line business idea for new International Herald Tribune publisher, fresh from India.

I'll leave someone more qualified than me to explain the concept:

I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it. A newspaper publisher offering to take an equity stake in companies that wanted to advertise in the paper. But that's exactly what the Times of India (with a circulation of 2.4 million, the world's largest-selling English broadsheet daily) is doing with something it calls Private Treaties. And it's not some secret backroom deal, either. It's all spelled out clearly on TimesPrivateTreaties.com (complete with a section labeled "Investment Philosopy" - that's not a typo on my part, as you can see above).
http://www.sajaforum.org/2008/01/media-watch-tim.html

MEA CULPA; Golden cost the International Herald Tribune zero.

"The IHT blog is a strange cocktail of pearls of wisdom and complete bollocks."

I think this email to ihtreaders@gmail.com is very good summary of Think!

However, complete bollocks can sometimes be confused with tongue in cheeck observations:

Take the Golden costing the International Herald Tribune a fortune bit and that him leaving is going to get the IHT to profitability....that was actually a weak attempt at humour (him leaving making the IHT profitable) but what I didn't know, and simply wasn't true, was that the IHT did not pay for his salary. The NYT did and does.

Of course that still leaves the apartment, the T&E and the transatlantic flights....(Joke).

Promote audience participation, not free-for-all forums

In a posting on Mediashift last week, new media analyst Mark Glaser considers how The New York Times and BusinessWeek have embraced audience participation, but are still figuring out how to harness its power and moderate the discussion effectively.
The concern for many news sites at this point is not whether to let the audience participate, but how to do so without delving into all-open forums that quickly degenerate and require costly moderation.

http://www.editorsweblog.org/news//2008/01/promote_audience_participation_not_freef.php#more

Job opening at International Herald Tribune

IHT Assistant Business Editor, Asia

If you have a solid feel for business news, and knowledge of Asia markets, companies and business trends, you and The International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong, may be a great fit.

The Herald Trib is looking for an experienced, breaking news reporter to fill a new position, Assistant Business Editor, Asia. A key aspect of the job is writing bylined breaking business news for IHT.com, which would ultimately appear in the print edition of the IHT, and would be on offer for use by the IHT’s parent company on
nytimes.com and in The New York Times. Your task is to focus on the biggest business stories of the day not the routine run of business developments.

As an assistant editor you are expected to contribute to the direction of our revamped
iht.com/biz Web site by overseeing two online Web editors in Hong Kong who are making sure that the site is constantly updated with breaking news, video and multimedia. Excellent news judgment, writingskills and speed are key qualities for the job. The individual would report to the business editor in Asia, also based in Hong Kong.

For more information, please send a resume and contact Tom Sims, IHT Asia business editor at
tsims@iht.com

http://jmsc.hku.hk/blogs/careers/2008/01/22/iht-assistant-business-editor-asia/

Should the International Herald Tribune run the NYT crossword puzzle?

I'm not a great crossword fan but I do occasionally have a run at the NYT crossword puzzle in the International Herald Tribune.

My sense has always been that for the amateur crossword enthusiast, without deep local knowledge of U.S culture, that the NYT crossword is unsuitable for the World's Daily Newspaper. That doesn't mean replacing it with a British one (Murdoch runs his London Times crossword in the New York Post) where the problems are simply created for people without local knowledge of British culture.

The argument runs at the IHT - I presume - that Americans are still the largest single nationality reader group (about a third) and the NYT crossword is 'free'.

Personally, I believe the IHT needs to create its own crossword as part of defining its own unique character (along with its own editorials).

Here however are the more expert musings of British crossword enthusiast Peter Biddlecombe on this subject....

http://www.xwordblog.com/2008/01/more-on-british.html

For more on British v. American crosswords visit

http://www.xwordblog.com/2007/11/british-vs-amer.html

The IHT's At Home Abroad Provides Insights into Obama

Obama is a third-culture kid, something Lee Aitken observed, no studied no less, when editing the At Home Abroad feature in the International Herald Trubune.

Excerpted from “The Obama of ‘Dreams’
By David Ignatius, Real Cear Politics, January 17, 2008

Obama makes clear in “Dreams from My Father” that he brings another valuable gift to politics, in addition to his African-American heritage. That’s his identity as what sociologists call a “third-culture kid,” whose formative years were spent living overseas. Journalist Lee Aitken, who studied the phenomenon when she was editing a special feature for expatriate families called “At Home Abroad” in the International Herald Tribune, says that Obama exemplifies many of these third-culture traits.
Third-culture kids learn how to make their way in unfamiliar surroundings. The late Ruth Hill Useem, a former Michigan State sociologist who studied them for decades, explained: “They adapt, they find niches, they take risks, they fail and pick themselves up again. … Their camouflaged exteriors and understated ways of presenting themselves hide their rich inner lives.” In surveys, more than 80 percent said they could relate to anyone, regardless of race or nationality.
It’s this voice of a seeker and adapter that you discover in Obama’s writings. Describing the years when he was still trying to find himself, “like a salmon swimming blindly upstream toward the site of his own conception,” he says he searched for an identity as a civil rights activist and organizer. “Because this community I imagined was still in the making, built on the promise that the larger American community, black, white and brown, could somehow redefine itself — I believed that it might, over time, admit the uniqueness of my own life.”


http://thepoliticalgrapevine.com/?p=10

Monday, 21 January 2008

Global Financial Meltdown is all the fault of the International Herald Tribune

According to Steve Goldstein, over at Dow Jones' Market Watch, a tiny little paragraph 9 was responsible for today's Asian and European market meltdown.


LONDON (MarketWatch) -- A story with a headline "French regulator sees 'partial decoupling' of U.S. and E.U. economies" doesn't sound like the kind to derail stocks from Mumbai to Paris.
Particularly when the losses came Monday, for an article published Friday in the International Herald Tribune, a paper best known for re-printing articles from its parent, The New York Times, in newsstands around Europe.
Understandably, the story was slow to get around. But sitting in paragraph nine, there were comments that amount to a profit warning for banks in France as well as those around the world
.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/how-french-bankers-comments-helped/story.aspx?guid=D39EF3A7%2D0DEB%2D489A%2DA56F%2D3676BCF20B1C

Best known for re-printing articles from its parent?

Understandably the story was slow to get around?

These aren't very nice things to say about our beloved IHT, even if the writer does work for IHT competitor Dow Jones and the world financial system is collapsing because of a slow to get around cut and paste job out of Paris.

Paul Krugman at the International Herald Tribune

I like him, but any International Herald Tribune reader has to have a view on Paul Krugman.

An interesting up-to-date piece on him can be found here:
http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/2008.01.20/301.html

Murdoch vs. The International Herald Tribune Part II

While we're on the subject of Murdoch's plans for the WSJ/Times note this:

‘Fortress Wapping’ on the block
Posted by
Martin Stabe on 21 January 2008 at 06:04

News International is shopping its Wapping headquarters, the Financial Times reports.
The most likely new home for the News International newspapers — the Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World — could be Canary Wharf or Waterloo, the FT says.
Rumours of a sale of “Fortress Wapping” last summer lead to predictions that
News International could cash in on “massive demand” for property in east London.
In July 2007, the FT had reported that News International had hired agents to find a 32,500- to 37,160-square-metres office space. Among the areas mentioned then as potential locations for the site were the City, South Bank, or Paddington in west London.


Maybe the push for a COA is driven just as much by the need to integrate the WSJ Brussel's operations and all of Dow Jones in London into one central TAKE OVER THE WORLD COMMAND POST.

If you work for the WSJ in Brussels I would be sending out your CVs unless you fancy a move to London, God forbid, Docklands.

Murdoch vs. The International Herald Tribune

While all minds have been focussed on the Murdoch WSJ taking on the NYT in the USA, this blog has been laying money on Murdoch partnering up the WSJ and The Times of London to take on the International Herald Tribune. I think I said something about keeping a close eye on personnel movements, the first biggie being a News Int man to be the publisher of the WSJ.

Now add this little gem into the mix and it's getting interesting reading the tea-leaves:

FT’s New York bureau chief named biz editor at Times of London
January 21st, 2008
David Wighton, the New York bureau chief for the
Financial Times, has been named the business editor of the Times of London, according to a Reuters story.
The story stated, “Wighton currently works as the FT’s New York bureau chief and has been appointed business and city editor by new Times editor James Harding as one of several senior appointments announced by the company on Monday.
“Among these, Brigid Callaghan, editor of the Times online Web site, has been made editor of the paper’s mobile platform.
“Harding was promoted to editor last month as News Corp made several new appointments in the wake of Murdoch’s takeover of Dow Jones & Co.”


http://weblogs.jomc.unc.edu/talkingbiznews/?p=4244

The Nano Car Story in the International Herald Tribune

Huge excitement the other day in the blogosphere about Tata's Nano car, but does anyone remember reading this in the International Herald Tribune story....

The making of the Nano
by Ratan Tata

It was never meant to be a Rs1-lakh car; that happened by circumstance. I was interviewed by the [British newspaper] Financial Times at the Geneva Motor Show and I talked about this future product as a low-cost car. I was asked how much it would cost and I said about Rs1 lakh. The next day the Financial Times had a headline to the effect that the Tatas are to produce a Rs100,000 car. My immediate reaction was to issue a rebuttal, to clarify that that was not exactly what I had said. Then I thought, I did say it would be around that figure, so why don't we just take that as a target. When I came back our people were aghast, but we had our goal.

http://carnewz.blogspot.com/2008/01/making-of-nano.html

It doesn't say much for FT reporting but it sure shows they have some influence.

Shell and the International Herald Tribune

This came in as a comment to my posting on E.Rosenthal/Business of Green but worthy of a little more light.

Posted by Anon, this is what he/she has to say:

What I find more disturbing is how far the IHT will go to please oil companies. Take the IHT's June 26, 2006 front page: A "news" piece praising Shell's environmentally friendly work (http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/29/business/carbon.php) was placed above an ad by Shell also vaunting their eco-friendliness. All this as Shell coincidentally started a 50-State PR tour (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/06/28/shell-execs-going-on-50c_n_23952.html).

Honestly Anon, I think you'll find this a simple co-incidence arising from the pagination folk and editorial. As I understand it the advertising department says what ads it needs to appear on which pages, without anyone knowing what the editorial will be on any given page.

For the IHT to 'help' Shell in this way would require an editorial paginator deliberately posting a pre-planned pro-Shell piece above a pre-planned advert: that is to say, a pretty much sackable offence at the IHT, and assuming the co-operation of editorial (hard to even imagine).

If anyone who works at the IHT would like to explain how this came about please post your comment, but I think Anon is way off the mark here.

I am reminded in fact of a time when the then publisher of the IHT was visiting the president of Indonesia (Suharto I'm pretty sure) to ask permission to open a print site, and knowing this, an extremely hostile piece about his corrupt government appeared that very morning in the IHT, so that both President and Publisher could discuss the IHT with an anti-regime story on the front page of said paper on the coffee table before them.

Now that WAS equally in breach of code of ethics, but nobody complained about that.

Carlos isn't happy with the International Herald Tribune

Oh, what happy memories of a distant past: invited to come to the International Herald Tribune's Paris HQ and become their subscriptions manager.

The memories were brought back by an email to ihtreaders@gmail.com which I will reprint below, some of his private info excluded, but enough for the very efficient subs team to sort out...if they are reading this of course.

Dear Sir:

I live in Switzerland part of the year, and in theUS the rest of the time. Beginning of July 2007, I began a four month IHTsubscription to my address in Brig, Switzerland(K.XXXstr.3).
I extended it for another month inOctober -- to end app Nov.23, 2007 -- the date of my return to the US. I prepaid both of the sesubscriptions, with no commitment beyond November.

I have now received word from my neighbors of apile of IHTs overflowing my mailbox in Brig.

I would appreciate it if you would turn off the IHT spigot, and check your records.

I hope you get this right, because undue hasslecould well discourage me from taking another 5 month subscription in 2008!
Yours truly,
Carlos E. Kruytbosch
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -- George Santayana

Elizabeth Rosenthal, the International Herald Tribune and the Business of Green

Before proceeding, let me get my position on the table once again: I am a believer in man-made climate change with potentially disastrous implications for our planet (although no less worried about we feed and fuel 9 billion people in 2050).

I have posted before on the International Herald Tribune's climate coverage, in particular flagging Elisabeth Rosenthal for verging on the mix of opinion and news reporting.

I don't want her, nor the IHT, to become the new Judith Millar of environmental reporting, so I link the following blog just out of interest - I am NOT endorsing all the opinions of the commentator but I think any senior IHT editor interested in the IHT's green coverage, and aware of just how much the blog world is blogging on it (it seems to be the No. 1 topic of interest to IHT readers active in the blogosphere) should be reading all climate change copy extremely carefully.

The Business of Green is all well and good (witness the recent Shell adverts) but the IHT has to retain balance in opinion and complete integrity in news reporting.

So have a look at this....

"This article is only one of many that make The Times read like something produced at a ministry of propaganda rather a newspaper produced in a free country. Its author, one Elizabeth Rosenthal, has previously demonstrated that she is an enthusiastic and utterly naive advocate of environmentalism. (See her “Cleaner consumption and the low-carbon life” in the February 23 issue of the International Herald Tribune, a newspaper owned by The Times.) The Times definitely does not read like a newspaper in which reporters apply critical thinking, exercise independent judgment and common sense, verify the facts they report by means of doing the necessary research, and strive for logical consistency. It is in fact something of a joke as a newspaper, or at least would be a joke if it were not as successful as it has been in helping to poison our culture and destroy our country."


http://opinioncommentary.blogspot.com/2008/01/is-there-problem-blame-global-warming.html

The International Herald Tribune in Japan

An interesting review of English-language press in Japan, can be found at
Japan Navigator
Japanese business, culture and travel by Ad Blankestijn.


The IHT comes in second place to The Japan Times, for reasons the IHT might want to reflect on given how the first place is given to a newspaper the reviewer finds 'stale' and very untimely.

Perhaps most telling however is his concluding remarks:

Although I occasionally buy one of the above newspapers, I am not a subscriber to any of them. There is a much better source of news on Japan than what you get on “dead trees:” the internet, made accessible by that fantastic service News on Japan. This website contains daily updated links to major (and sometimes obscure, and therefore all the more interesting) news stories, not only in the above-mentioned English press in Japan, but also to a wide variety of news sources elsewhere. Instead of opening a newspaper every morning, I log on to this site and click on the articles that seem interesting. The only thing I miss is the smell of ink.

http://www.japannavigator.com/2008/01/21/best-english-newspaper-in-japan/

Sunday, 20 January 2008

That was then, what will they write now?

MSM and the media blogs have all dutifully reported the IHT's press release about Golden's departure at face value. I'm not saying there's more to it than meets the eye, just that you might expect a little value added from the media blogs by now.



Just as a little reminder of how well they toe the party line, do we all remember this piece?

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4041


From AJR, February/March 2006
International Intrigue
After establishing the Times as a national newspaper, the New York Times Co. decided it was time to go worldwide. It took full control of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune by strong-arming its partner, the Washington Post Co., into selling its half-interest. Now the Times Co. is in the midst of a three-way global shootout with Dow Jones and the Financial Times.
By Susan Paterno Susan Paterno (paterno@chapman.edu) is an AJR senior contributing writer.When Arthur Sulzberger Jr. visited the International Herald Tribune offices in Paris last July to host a town hall meeting, he faced a far less hostile crowd than the first time he met with the staff three years ago. Back then, he was the new owner, the chairman of the New York Times Co in red suspenders, standing before them, backslapping fellow executives and speaking bad French. Michael Golden, the Herald Tribune's publisher and Sulzberger's cousin, recalls the meeting as "very difficult," mostly because the Times had wrested full control of the paper from its co-owner, the Washington Post Co. "It was as if your parents got divorced," recalls one longtime staff member, "and the bad parent got custody."
But the bad parent turned out to be not so awful after all. The Times Co. has poured more than $100 million into the paper: $65 million to buy the Post's share of the self-anointed "world's daily," the rest in investments, sustaining multimillion-dollar losses annually to wage a global newspaper war against the international editions of the Wall Street Journal and the London-based Financial Times.
After successfully expanding the Times' national reach, Sulzberger was willing to alienate the Grahams, longtime family friends and the Post's majority owners, for unfettered access to expand the Times worldwide, says Alex S. Jones, coauthor of "The Trust," an exhaustive history of the Sulzbergers. Though skeptics question the Times' ability to remake the Tribune into a profit powerhouse, "immensely profitable may not be necessary," Jones says. Acquiring the Tribune has reinforced "the Times as the national and international news leader. It's a brand choice."
In the last two years, the Tribune has undergone a profound transformation and its greatest expansion in the paper's 118-year history as it tries to knock its rivals out of the market. The spoils are significant. The Tribune offers advertisers one of the world's most coveted demographics; the typical subscriber is an affluent, highly educated, well-informed, nomadic 46-year-old European senior manager with a $1.02 million investment portfolio, according to the paper's most recent reader survey. "It's a great audience; it's even better than the New York Times!" says Publisher Golden, as close to gushing as he gets, sipping coffee in shirtsleeves and slacks – he had ridden his bike to the interview – in his neighborhood cafĂ© across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens. The Herald Tribune's readership is "highly educated, largely managerial and highly professional in business, government, education and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], mobile and wealthy. It's great.'"
Considering the relentless newspaper industry-wide decline in advertising revenues and circulation, purchasing the Tribune was a gamble, "but we didn't place that bet thinking it wouldn't work out," Sulzberger says. "We owned 50 percent of a declining asset that was going to continue declining unless the dynamic [changed]. We set out to change the dynamic. Are we talking about massive amounts of money? No, we're not, given the size of the New York Times Co. There may come a time [when] it doesn't work, and you say, 'That wasn't working, let's move on.' But so far, we're delighted with the results, with how it's positioned, and we think it has a great future."
More than any other English-language newspaper abroad, the Tribune has a fiercely loyal following and a rich history that goes back to 1887, when horse-drawn carriages delivered the first four-page issues of the New York Herald's European edition to newsstands and hotels in Paris' most elegant quarters. Over the years, and under several owners, the Tribune became a quirky, quaint, parochial newspaper with deep roots in Paris for a growing number of Americans traveling abroad, featuring humorist Art Buchwald, whose columns helped make the paper and the City of Light synonymous. Actress Jean Seberg played a Tribune street hawker in Jean-Luc Godard's influential 1960 New Wave film, "Breathless," and an ever-increasing number of expatriates and college students became fervent fans of the Tribune for its stellar daily lineup of the best news stories from the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times (thanks to the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post wire).
Beginning in the mid '90s, though, intense competition from other dailies and multimillion-dollar losses threatened the Tribune's future, prompting the Times to take it over completely in 2003. The transition predictably produced anxiety among veterans; nearly a quarter of them took generous buyouts the Times offered. Reporters and editors who remain cite the paper's addition of more than a dozen new reporters, more news pages, color, considerably more office space, far more original reporting and Publisher Golden's long-term lease in one of Paris' most expensive neighborhoods as evidence that the Times means to stay. In August, the newsroom staff greeted Michael Oreskes – a highly regarded former New York Times journalist and the Tribune's fifth editor in a decade – with optimism, forecasting the paper would be around at least another two to three years to give him and Golden an opportunity to try to drive the Financial Times and overseas Journal out of business.
Pundits predict only two of the three will remain in 10 years, and Oreskes, a former Times deputy managing editor and Washington bureau chief, agrees. "One will be the Herald Tribune," he says, declining to name the other. Prognosticators, including Tribune insiders and Bertrand Pecquerie, director of the World Editors Forum in Paris, predict the overseas Journal will succumb, citing as evidence owner Dow Jones' decision to convert its Far Eastern Economic Review from a weekly to a monthly in December 2004, its shrinking international operations and its move in October to remake its broadsheet in Europe and Asia into a compact tabloid.
Though both the Times Co. and Dow Jones refuse to release financial information regarding individual properties, Penelope Abernathy, senior vice president of the Journal's international division, flatly dismisses the oft-repeated notion that "the Wall Street Journal is pulling back and retreating in Europe and Asia. It's absolutely not true." The overseas Journal's predicted demise is "wishful thinking" on the part of the Herald Tribune, says Abernathy, who formerly worked for 13 years at the Times Co.
The Journal's switch to a compact edition in October, one of Dow Jones' major initiatives in 2005, has succeeded beyond "what we could have hoped for," she adds. Integrating the print edition with the Journal's Web site – with its 764,000 paid subscribers – gives the Journal a huge advantage over the Financial Times and the Herald Tribune, says Kate Dobbin, Dow Jones' director of corporate communications. "Our subscribers value our content highly enough to pay for it, which stands us apart from those of our competitors who continue to make their content available [online] for free."
In the coming years, the New York Times Co. has a chance to create a model of great journalism "partly in print and partly online" that will help solve "the challenge of our generation of journalists," Oreskes says. "Our generation will be judged by how well we figure out how to distribute great journalism even as [its] underpinnings change."
The riots that spread from Paris' decaying suburbs to cities throughout the nation last fall provided Oreskes' greatest test to date, and "he came through with flying colors," says author Axel Krause, a former Herald Tribune correspondent and editor who left in the mid-'90s and currently serves as a commentator for TV-5, the French equivalent of CNN. The Tribune's coverage was "nothing less than superb, widely quoted in the French media, including a balanced editorial, 'While Paris Burns,' " which roundly criticized President Jacques Chirac and the "out-of-touch political elite," he says.
The Tribune "was by far the best of all the American print media, with the possible exception of Time's European edition," Krause says. "The IHT, like Time, mobilized a first-class team of reporters who covered all major aspects of the crisis, including reactions in other capitals." The combination of color photos on page one for days on end and the Tribune's "well-reported, balanced and superbly edited copy" made "a highly effective package" that "beat virtually all the competing daily media, notably the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, plus a few French dailies I also read."
Despite the Tribune's recent success, Krause sees room for improvement. While reviewing various media for his commentaries, Krause came to realize "just how New York Times-ed the Herald Tribune had become." The Tribune and Paris "used to be like Paris and the Eiffel Tower." Now, "they've lost that connection to Paris. At this point, what difference does it make where the paper is published?" (About 60 percent of the paper's circulation of 241,000 is in Europe, just 7 percent of it in France; Asia accounts for 35 percent.)
The paper's business coverage is "much better now than it was, but it's still not as good as the Financial Times or the Economist," according to Krause. And, he says, "there's not much investigative or original reporting."
While lamenting the loss of Washington Post and L.A. Times stories, Tribune managers say the New York Times' newfound willingness to work closely with the staff has made the paper fresher and deeper. "This is a paper read by people who live in real time," says Managing Editor Alison Smale, formerly the New York Times' deputy foreign editor.
But real-time news has real-time obstacles. Paris is six hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States. When New York editors come in at 9 a.m., it's already 3 p.m. in Paris and 9 p.m. in Hong Kong, making real-time coverage "well, complicated," Smale says. A list of editing deadlines, tacked to the newsroom bulletin board, read like a nightly race around Europe and Asia: Tokyo (2:40 p.m.); Hyderabad (3:10 p.m.); Seoul (3:55 p.m.); Asia (4:14 p.m.); re-plate Asia (6:30 p.m.); Europe (9 p.m.); and Europe again (11 p.m.).
Though Sulzberger and his managers see a bright future for the Tribune, the rest of the newspaper industry is suffering from increasing costs, eroding circulation and declining stock prices, a 40 percent drop at the Wall Street Journal's parent, Dow Jones, and the New York Times Co. since 2001. Over the last year, both the Journal and the Times Co. have shed hundreds of workers. As for the Tribune, "There will be economies at the IHT, but we are not prepared to announce what they are," says Golden. In the newsroom, "We'll examine closely to see if we can be more efficient or effective," says Oreskes. "And yes, we're going to see if there are places to save jobs. But we don't have a quota or number."
During Sulzberger's visit to the paper in July, the message he conveyed was basically simple, recalls longtime Tribune reporter Thomas Crampton, paraphrasing Sulzberger's words: "Stop spending my money." When an editor asked Sulzberger how long the company would sustain losses before pulling the plug, Sulzberger said there was no deadline, adding the Times Co. was not about to carry losses forever and repeating his belief that quality journalism has always saved the company.
"We live in tight times, but the New York Times mantra is 'quality journalism,'" says reporter Thomas Fuller. "It can sound like a promotional brochure, but I haven't seen anything to make me think it's not true." As of July, the Tribune had lost $41 million since 2001, and projected losses for the current fiscal year run between $16 million to $25 million, according to one editor. That higher figure is greater than the newsroom's current budget of $24 million, an increase of more than $1.6 million from the year before, says Smale.
The Herald Tribune has among the highest-paid journalists in Paris; salaries for copy editors range from $66,000 to $160,000 annually (depending on length of service) for 35-hour work weeks, with assigning editors usually earning more, according to past and present members of an employees' group that French law requires, which is privy to the paper's finances. Employees have seven weeks off. (Tribune executives have no comment on the paper's finances and salaries, says Communications Manager Felix Marquardt.)
As far back as the '60s, the Times had wanted an international newspaper and over the years had launched various crusades to get one. After starting and losing millions on its own international edition early in that decade, the Times attempted to pry the New York Herald's European edition from its then-owner, John Hay "Jock" Whitney, a member of the wealthy, moderate Republican Eastern establishment elite. In a surprise move, Whitney in 1966 announced a partnership with Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, an alliance whose objective was "to win in Paris," according to author Charles Robertson's historical account of the Herald Tribune's first 100 years. Using Graham's deep pockets, Whitney ran the Times out of business, Robertson says. In May 1967, Arthur Sulzberger Sr. shut down the Times' international edition and teamed up with Whitney and the Post Co., with each owning a third of the paper. They called the new venture the International Herald Tribune, a name Buchwald playfully disparaged: "By the time you finish pronouncing it, you've missed your plane!"
In the 1980s, Lee Huebner, a onetime speechwriter for Richard Nixon who was named publisher in 1979, modernized and expanded the Tribune, remaking it into what one longtime former staff member called "a truly international newspaper." It also made money, 10 percent to 15 percent profit margins on about $100 million in revenues, says Huebner, belying the "myth and illusion that the [Tribune] can't make money."
By the early '90s, Whitney had sold his share of the paper to the Times and Post, and the competition in Europe had become fierce: The Financial Times had entered the market a decade earlier, followed by the European Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN and others. "The Trib was no longer alone," says recently retired Tribune Executive Editor Walter Wells, "and its operations were being challenged." Huebner departed in 1993, ushering in a difficult period.
The Tribune was struggling financially in the mid-'90s, just as the Times Co.'s "interest turned to international," recalls Publisher Golden. Along with his cousin Sulzberger, Golden was part of a new management team that had taken over the Times Co. from the older generation in 1997. Together, they began discussing the possibility of fully owning the Tribune, Golden says.
Back in Paris, Peter Goldmark, a former Rockefeller Foundation executive and onetime Times Mirror vice president, became the Tribune's chief executive in 1998. With Executive Editor David Ignatius, who came from the Post, "we made giant steps" to improve the paper's quality, Goldmark says, adding features, redesigning its pages, striking a deal with Bloomberg to add business news, opening a bureau in Asia, running more analysis of the day's big stories and investigations that focused on such topics as corruption and the environment. Charles Mitchelmore, a 22-year Tribune veteran who retired in June 2002, remembers Ignatius as "the best editor I ever worked for." He says Ignatius, now a syndicated opinion columnist and associate editor at the Post, and Managing Editor Robert McCartney, now a Post assistant managing editor, made "a terrific team."
But when the dotcom bubble burst, terrorists brought down the World Trade Center and advertising dried up, "we didn't have a cushion," says a former editor. Ignatius "presided over nothing but cutbacks." To some degree, the newsroom had become a velvet coffin, recalls Liz Alderman, the paper's business editor. It was "a stodgy kind of place," adds Wells, "a newsroom where some people really did want to sit in the same chair for 30 years."
In the summer of 2001, Katharine Graham died at 84, and both owners were applying financial pressure to the Tribune's managers. The Times and Post differed philosophically, McCartney recalls, with Post executives "more willing to tolerate modest losses in the interest of having this excellent platform for our journalism. The Times had a completely different attitude; if they were going to lose money, they weren't going to lose money for anybody's journalism other than their own."
The next year was "the most uncertain" in his 13 years at the Tribune, reporter Fuller remembers. Rumors circulated about a sale, or worse, closure, exacerbating anxieties in the newsroom. "They suddenly said, 'We have [millions] in losses,'" Fuller says. "It was a huge number. All of us were shocked: 'Where did that come from?' We all looked around and said, 'What happened?'"
In the spring of '02, then-New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines began plotting with Sulzberger to take over the Tribune, Raines wrote in a 2004 Atlantic Monthly article detailing his rise and fall. The Tribune would be part of a long-range plan "formulated..over the previous 10 years" to make the Times "the centerpiece of a truly global news organization."
Sulzberger emphatically disputes almost all aspects of Raines' account of the Herald Tribune takeover. (Raines declined an interview request.) A decade ago, Sulzberger says, "We were creating a national strategy, that was where all of our focus was." Then came the Internet explosion. In light of the Times' online popularity – it has the busiest newspaper-owned Web site, with 1.6 million daily visitors – executives realized "how much the world yearns for New York Times news," Sulzberger says. "We sensed a greater potential." At the same time, "the International Herald Tribune [was] at a terrible place, spiraling down, and that spiral was going to continue inexorably unless something changed the dynamic of the 50-50 ownership structure."
To further its international aims, the company struck a deal with Le Monde to insert a weekly Times supplement into the well-respected French daily, an effort "to gauge the global appetite for New York Times journalism," Golden says. The supplement's sudden appearance "drove the IHT management crazy."
Ignatius and other managers feared the Times' Paris invasion threatened the Tribune's eroding advertising base. "We were really upset," recalls Ignatius. Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham "was furious over the branded pages," recalls one senior editor. (A Post spokesman said Graham declined to comment.)
As if it didn't have enough problems, the Tribune was also getting less-than-rave reviews in the press. Writing in Slate, media critic James Ledbetter called the paper "decades stale," and described it as "a strange archaic animal, the duck-billed platypus of the newspaper world." It had, he wrote, become "increasingly marginal in such an information-rich world."
Soon after, Sulzberger and Raines went on the offensive, Raines wrote, secretly ordering "a page-one flag for an international edition of the New York Times," scheduled to debut the following year. An international edition of the New York Times was "one of the options we considered," Sulzberger says, questioning Raines' version. The page-one mock-up was part of field research whose eventual results were "crystal-clear," he added: If executives replaced the International Herald Tribune with the international New York Times, "we'd be giving up a great brand and adversely affecting our ability to succeed."
During negotiations with Post executives in fall '02, Sulzberger offered Graham a Hobson's choice: Sell the Post's 50 percent or the Times would launch its own international edition and withhold "further flows of cash to the IHT," United Press International reported. In October, Graham capitulated. The sale "was made with great reluctance and sadness – and little choice," he said in a memo to his staff. The Post's stock rose on the news, prompting media financial analyst Edward Atorino to laud the deal and quip in Time magazine: "Who cares about [the International Herald Tribune] except some guy in a bar in France?" In retrospect, the deal was a smart move for the Times Co., Atorino says; the Tribune "was a joint custody orphan."
In December 2002, the Times named Wells, a 20-year Tribune veteran, the paper's managing editor; Ignatius and McCartney resigned and returned to the Post. By the time the Times took charge on January 1, 2003, Goldmark had reduced the staff by 14 percent, from 390 to 335, amid what the Financial Times called "the worst [advertising] recession in decades."
The Post, for its part, announced a deal allowing the Journal to publish Post stories in its overseas editions. A few days later, Tribune Publisher Goldmark called a staff meeting. Outside, the city was nearly frozen, shrouded in fog, as the staff gathered in the second-floor conference room. Saying he had been fired, Goldmark proclaimed "the end of the IHT as an independent newspaper, with its own voice and its own international outlook on the world," making public the Times' plans to make the Tribune the "global New York Times."
He did the best he could in difficult circumstances, Goldmark says. "We held on by our fingernails between 9/11 and the dotcom bubble bursting. We ran the place very lean, much leaner than they're running [it] now." Goldmark disputes the paper had losses during his tenure. "I found [the paper] hovering around a break-even mode, and we kept it at a break-even point for my years there." (Says Golden: "I don't see any value in getting into a discussion about the past performance of the IHT with a former executive.")
After the sale, about a dozen of the paper's veterans took buyouts – a month's salary for every year worked up to 15 – leaving a loss of institutional memory and a staff largely in its 30s and 40s. The departures caught Times executives off guard. "Many more left than [had been] anticipated," says Serge Schmemann, who arrived at the Herald Tribune from the New York Times in June 2003 to become editorial page editor. "It was a difficult period." The newsroom was "understaffed and overworked," he says.
Even the aging Buchwald wasn't safe. At the beginning of April 2003, the Times fired him, permitting him, Buchwald wrote in the Post, "to write one column every 50 years about my personal problems." The same month, Jayson Blair's plagiarism and fabrication came to light, ushering in what the Times itself called "a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper." At that point, "the poor old [Tribune] was not at the top of anyone's agenda," says Smale. In the wake of the scandal, Raines stepped down and was replaced by Bill Keller. The Times Co. named Golden publisher and Smale managing editor at the Herald Tribune, and promoted Walter Wells to executive editor.
With the Blair affair fading, Golden began formulating a vision for the Tribune. "What drives the paper is globalization; what drives globalization is business," he says. Golden's goal was to improve "the product, particularly to appeal to business," while maintaining the Tribune's status as "a general interest newspaper."
Only a third of the Tribune's readers – spread throughout 180 countries – are American expatriates; one third are expatriates of other nations; and one third are native to the country where they subscribe. Nearly 70 percent of the paper's ad revenue comes from Europe, according to 2004 circulation figures.
With few exceptions – fashion writer Suzy Menkes, food writer Patricia Wells, art critic Souren Melikian – there was little original reporting when he took over the paper, Golden says. Adds Schmemann, "The paper was largely an editing exercise," with editors repackaging stories from the Post, Times and L.A. Times. Though admirers loved the Tribune's eccentric character and voice, joint ownership created problems, the biggest of which was timeliness. The Tribune usually published stories after they appeared in the United States, making the newspaper awfully dated.
With new executives in place, Tribune managers began tackling the paper's weaknesses. The Golden era, 2004, was an unprecedented period of investment and expansion. Wells replaced the 12 staff members who had left and over two years added 17 more, along with a handful of contract writers. "You've got to give the Times credit," says former Managing Editor McCartney. "They said, 'As soon as we own it, we're going to invest in it.' And by God, they did."
At the start of 2004, Golden, Wells and Smale opened a Hong Kong newsroom to attract international business readers and directly challenge the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal Asia. In June of that year, Media Asia called the Tribune "the fastest growing international publication in the region."
On the business pages, editor Liz Alderman directed the staff to find stories with a global perspective, emphasizing technology, the European Union expansion and Eastern Europe. By using reporters from the Times' foreign bureaus, Alderman hopes to beat the Financial Times on trade and trends in mergers and acquisitions. She added coverage focusing on media, communications, German and French policy issues, and macroeconomic reports from Brussels and other European capitals, turning the weekend edition into more of "a magazine read."
In October, the Tribune added Marketplace to the European edition, four extra pages, five days a week, of business coverage provided by Bloomberg's financial news service – Bloomberg already contributes four pages in the Asian edition – leading to a burst of hiring and a more direct attack on the paper's competitors.
The Times exerts no editorial control over the Tribune, Smale says, though editors on both sides of the pond have frequent contact and daily discussions. The Times added more layers of bureaucracy and meetings, and more special sections devoted to stories the Times provides, editors and reporters say. But Tribune editors decide what to publish on the news pages, as opposed to what appears in the editorials, which are "the international voice of the New York Times," says Schmemann. "There's no daylight between us. We are one editorial policy," a political leaning he describes as "left of center."
Under Schmemann, the editorial staff increased from two to four, and the section from two pages four times a week to four pages six times per week, prompting unsolicited submissions to rise about 25 percent to 200 weekly.
One editor, thrilled with New York Times ownership but speaking on background to avoid antagonizing Tribune management, describes the paper's goals as "fuzzy." The oft-stated purpose appears to be increasing readership among top-income leaders and creating a buzz that "will translate into ad dollars and financial success," the editor says, but the strategy remains "unclear."
Everyone interviewed in the Paris newsroom lauded Oreskes' appointment, in part because he has experience in print, television and online. With Oreskes, the Times "has put one of its very best people in charge," says former Editor Ignatius. "There's nothing more reassuring than that. He's as good as they get in our business."
Though optimistic, Golden acknowledges the paper is operating in a second year of a weakened global economy and flat ad sales. To succeed, he says, "We need the market to grow, and we need to get a bigger share of it." Just how long the Times will continue to subsidize the paper's losses "depends on the market and the paper's performance... If, in the next three to four years, the market does not improve, if it stays the same as it is now, we'll have to relook at our plan."
From the other side of the Atlantic, the Post's Ignatius has a rosier view. "A premium international newspaper whose news standards are strong, whose coverage is reliable, ought to make a place for itself globally. And in that sense, I think Arthur's bet has a good chance of paying off."
Senior writer Susan Paterno (editor@ajr.umd.edu) wrote about the sad saga of Gary Webb in AJR's June/July 2005 issue.