Saturday, 7 June 2008

The IHT's May '68 Exhibition at the National Theatre

Compiled by an editor at the International Herald Tribune and designed and installed by the IHT's greatest (non-in-house talent) Paul Bagshawe of Bagshawe Assocaties (, I was at the opening night of this outstanding exhibition (May 1st, 2008).

Using the pages and photos of the archives of the IHT, I hope that the IHT will take this exhibition on the road, after it's run during the month of May 2008 at the National Theatre, London.

Here are some snaps:

Jeremy Irons, performing at the NT during May 2008, and long standing IHT fan saying many a kind word about the IHT at the opening of the exhibition.

Mike Oreskes, the executive editor was there, as was Roger Collis, the travel expert who doesn't actually travel much any more. 'Afraid I dind't capture them.

Publisher of the IHT, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson (AKA SDJ). Currently based in the IHT's London office but shortly to move the the Paris HQ, he and his family to live in Paris. Happy he, to escape the horror's of the IHT's depressing Docklands' offices.

Bagshawe Associates did two brand campaigns for the IHT.

Think! (1999/2000) - commissioned by my goodself back in the day.

The Broader Business Perspective (2003) - commissioned at three day's notice when the NYT's very expensive advertising agency completely failed to come up with a campaign for the IHT, much to NY's embarrassment. Bagshawe Associates were called in to save the day, and Paul Bagshawe and I came up with a concept in three days and executed it for outdoor, print, television and taxis in about 2 weeks.

The IHT's brand advertising is now carried out by another agency, why exactly I'm not sure, given his success rate.

But Bagshawe Associates continue to design and produce virtually all of the IHT's collateral, from 'house adverts', advertising rate cards to glossy brochures for the Luxury and other IHT conferences.

Tom and Gary, the backbone of Bagshawe Associates.

Charlotte Gordon, worldwide marketing director of the IHT, with her husband (centre) and the world famous Paul Bagshawe (right).


The IHT Developer's Blog Q&A Session

As Michael Cosentino at is gracious enough to admit, not many people read his blog about the IHT's website (and he likes to keep it that way which is rather odd; why have it the first place?)

As he recently opened it up to Q&A, I have taken the liberty of not even giving him a link, but a straightforward cut and paste job into this blog to save you the time.

However you can go there for his occassional (shall we say, Michael ) updates:

His email is: mcosentino at

Wouldn't it be great if the publisher, SDJ had a blog? Stephen, I can write it for you, make it up even. In fact, that's not a bad idea, a spoof blog from IHT publisher SDJ. Might have to think about that. (Don't worry Stephen, I don't have the time.)

The reason I like Michael is that he has already put a link to this blog on his blog and because he is passionate about and dedicated to the IHT, with a fraction of the resources he deserves. I think he and his team do an outstanding job.

(I am hoping he might put a link to my other blog, on his blog, but I think not. We can only hope.)

Anyway, here are his answers to the IHT Developer's Blog Q&A:

June 5: Posted by Michael Cosentino in General
1 Comment

A few weeks ago we opened up the request lines to suggestions, and while the response was by no means overwhelming (I mean, who reads this blog anyway?), there were a few questions and concerns that I’d like to respond to:

Nikos writes:
Would it be possible for you to identify the source (IHT, New York Times…) of the stories and editorials you publish as you once did? It would make it a lot easier of those of us seeking original IHT content.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this is a feature we used to have. However, as The International Herald Tribune is officially “the global edition of The New York Times” (as you can see in our revised logo up top), it was decided that in order to achieve tighter editorial integration this differentiation was no longer necessary. At the moment there are no plans to reimplement the source line in this way.

Dave writes:
I wonder if there is a way to personalise RSS feeds? Something akin to Google news, where I would be notified of any article containing one or more key words. i subscribe to several of your feeds, but would relish the idea also being able to have an RSS feed that will pick out any article in any section that refers say to Ukraine, be it in culture, europe, business, etc.

This is a fantastic idea, and as an RSS junkie I can say that this one’s been on our dev team’s wish list for quite some time. After analyzing the concept in depth, we’ve discovered that the main roadblock is our content management system, specifically the way it handles keyword metadata. Since our articles come from a variety of sources (IHT, AP, Reuters, etc) the quality of keyword data being stored in the system varies greatly. Inconsistent data formating is a developer’s nightmare, and for that reason we can’t move forward until there’s a reliable, unified system. If implemented now, this feature’s reliability would be questionable at best.
The other option is to allow users to construct their own keyword-based feeds. While this is certainly possibly it requires a significant amount of server horsepower to handle thousands of simultaneous queries (replete with misspelled queries, etc.). It is beyond our servers’ capabilities at this time. Perhaps we’ll discover an elegant solution for this, but for now it will remain near the top of our wish list. Come to think of it, it would be nice if you could RSS-subscribe to a search result in Google Reader.

Juurd writes:
I love the audionews/readspeaker feature, listening to the IHT while driving my car is very practical. Unfortunately, since about a week or two the articles, or rather the podcasts of them, stopped streaming into my iTunes - while other podcasts, from The New York Times for example, still keep coming. I don’t know whether the problem is with my computer or my settings, or with the iht.audionews.

We apologize for recent outages regarding our feeds and AudioNews. Major server upgrades occurred over the past few weeks and unfortunately the communication between our server and AudioNews’ became unstable, resulting in few updates. Everything is back on track now, we hope, but in the coming days we’ll be looking for more of the inevitable quirks that arise with these kinds of upgrades.

SO, there we have it: the three answers to the three emails he received from the three people clever enough to track down his well-hidden blog.


Old news, my apologies

Ex-IHT Asia hand Tom Crampton was kind enough to send me this link back in April. My apologies for him and to readers of THINK! for not posting sooner, but I have been very busy with the promotion of a book of mine.


The Global Edition of the New York Times and the missing Dingbat

I haven't wanted to rush to judgement on the latest changes, but I think two emails from many I have received from readers of the IHT best capture the concerns:

a) the IHT is NOT the global edition of the NYT, but a paper with its own identity and character;
b) character and history and independent (non-NYT) columnists count for something.

Here then are two examples, firstly from Rolf:

"So any reaction on the "fresh nameplate" shown Wednesday, May 21, -- International Herald Tribune -- The Global Edition of The New York Times"?Is this why Michael Oreskes is leaving -- the new dominance of the IHT by its owners.The IHT is NOT the NYTimes, it has its own historic identity."

And from OPL
"The dingbat has appeared on the front page of the IHT and its NY Tribune predecessor for almost daily for ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY TWO YEARS (142).

Can you imagine the Times of London without their dingbat (or whatever they call it)?!

The internet has been around for just over 10 years--and they're doing this for digital-friendliness...Like I said on the IHT Developer Blog, I'm concerned at the fact the NYT is just slowly accustoming us (its audience) to the change to the NYT-Global Edition brand. (Waiting for the IHT readership to die out?!)

The IHT is looking more and more like a spinoff of the NYT and less and less like a standalone paper with its own international perspective.

Maintaining the IHT's identity--through its brand, history as well as investing in exclusive resources--does not seem to be a priority for the NYT.

Loss of character = loss of sales, no? (Unless theres a big enough pool of people who enjoy the anonymous-ness of much of the IHT Business with Reuters section that is slowly taking over the paper.)

The paper's heart and soul lie in many elements that include the dingbat, the city of Paris, the exclusive columnists who make the IHT unique (who've included Buchwald, Wells, Abt, Zwerin, Vinocur...).

P.S Anyone remember the dingbat "explosion" animation in an IHT ad campaign from a couple of years ago? Surely IHT marketing folks saw value in it then?"

My reaction to these types of emails, of which I have had quite a few?

Firstly, people have been very hung up on the dingbat issue, and have completely failed to spot, or not commented on, the many other myriad design changes. Frankly, I think these people are in a minority - those worried about the dingbat. The dingbat has been changed many, many, many times during the history of the paper, and frankly I found it archaic, irritating and nationalistic. Its departure hasn't made a bag of beans of a difference to me. The iconography of the IHT lies in the type face of the words Herald and Tribune on the masthead.

Plus, despite the above mentioned effort to use the dingbat in an ad camapaign (which frankly I never saw which speaks volumes for the effectivenes and budget of the IHT's curent advertising), speaking as an ex-marketing director of the paper, I can tell you it was more of a nuisance than an advantage. Lots of newspaper with dingbats in their mastheads have dropped them in their marketing, perhaps most famously the FT.

The IHT does however have hundreds of newsstands around the world, and POS marketing racks etc with the old masthead. I very much doubt that they are going to remplace them all in one go because the NYT are trying to transform the IHT on the cheap, and they can't afford it. This hasn't been a rebranding exercise that ANY non-IHT reader would notice - non-readers who will continue to see the old masthead wrapped around kiosks in central London for years probably, getting dirtier and shabbier as each day goes on, and still with the old dingbat.

Which is a bit odd, because usually the whole point of making a major rebranding and redesign effort is to generate PR and controversy and attract non or only occassional readers back to the IHT.

That the IHT haven't done this, and I stand to be corrected, is because:

a) they haven't the money on their own P&L for this type of thing, when breaking even is THE GOAL.

b) the NYT won't invest for that sort of marketing in the current climate. In fact, I always predicted it would take the NYT about five years to work out they had overpaid for an asset that was in terminal demographic ageing decline, and sooner or later would work this out, and either sell it, or start investing serious money. (The latter being, happily more likely, having strapped the reputation of their brand all over the 'new;' IHT.)

c) the IHT is more worried about holding onto existing readers - and not alienating them - than attracting a declining pool of newspaper readers in Western Europe and the USA, if not in Asia, South America and the Indian sub continent where newspaper circulation is growing

As to NOT being a spin-off of the NYT, and not having its own traditions and historic identity, this really isn't about the dingbat.

It's about the staff of the IHT in Paris - and critically being in Paris, or A.N Other global capital; Brussels or Shanghai might arguably be better and cheaper - who chose stories from the wires and the NYT/Boston Globe resources, and whether THEY have an attachment to the idea of an independent newspaper with its own global outlook, traditions and historic identity.

It's not a question of the old readers dieing off (althought that would help) before the NYT make their move, it's a question of a generation of copy editors, and indeed senior editors, who are frankly, in some cases, stick-in-the-muds.

What concerns me are a number of more important issues, because, the reality is that the debate over where the content comes from is for now over: it's NYT, heavy reliance on AP as ever, and Reuters for business PLUS an INCREASED number of IHT staff reporters.

OK, the paper lost the WP content which was a blow, BUT, the facts are the IHT has more staff reporters on its books than at any time in its recent history.

If the editors Oreskes, Smale and Alderman know how to deploy those staff resources smartly, I see no reason why calling the paper The Global Edition of the NYT should make the slightest bit of difference. And right now, from what I can tell, that seems to be the case.

Plus I'm finding the Reuters business coverage quite excellent, and much better than what we had before, which relied too much on non-business wires, and in an environment when not nearly enough NYT bureaus ever consistently covered business.

Is Oreskes leaving Rolf?

That's the scuttlebut for sure, but if he is, it certainly isn't because of the 'new dominance' of the IHT's new owners. Oreskes - a 100% NYT man - was that dominance personified, and he was sent to Paris with, inter alia, on his brief to merge the resources of the two newspapers.

Therein lies the rub: if Roger Cohen or Tom Friedman were appointed the next editior, or even Daniel Altman, and were allowed to select the stories of the paper themselves (as Oreskes is today) then you could have an absolutely incredible newspaper.

Having a number of Brits working there, including Alison Smale, Cohen of course, has already profoundly aided the international perspective of the IHT.

But if the next editor is the next person to be passed over in NY and is given the IHT as the consolation prize, then the paper is in trouble.

Every time there is a new editor, even if back in the 1960s, 70s or 80s they had a stint in a foreign bureau of the NYT or WP, they arrived with no language skills, and the typical parochial vision of people who have never lived the lives of most IHT readers - multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-lingual people who have lived and worked on the front lines of globalization before anyone even came up with the word.

They won't go for an editor from outside the NYT simply because of content supply/organisational issues - the editor needs to know how the NYT works.

But they could hire from within - promote - the IHT and perhaps skip a generation and bring up fast a much younger, more dynamic, more cosmpolitan person as editor.

SDJ, the publisher, if if you look at his career, his French wife, where he has lived and worked, that he is not American, IS an IHT reader of exactly the age and demographic one (advertisers and engaged ambitious journalists) wants to talk to.

Mike Oreskes absolutely is not: older, American, without much international experience taken as a part of the whole of his career.

I think the biggest structural flaw in the paper today remains, without doubt, the op-ed pages.

Firstly, I have long felt the IHT should have its own editorials. It doesn't, and now with the Global Edition of the NYT thing, this seems even less likely.

But that is only a matter of vanity and ego - wishing to project the NYT editorial voice overseas.

I cannot see why, if they are prepared to frequently run editorials from the Boston Globe, another NYT property, they won't allow the IHT to write its own editorials.

Cost is probably a block, but the Boston Globe editorials put a big full stop NO to the idea of saying the global edition of the NYT can't carry IHT editorials.

Secondly, there just aren't enough columnists on the op-ed pages that are IHT.

So all columnist voices are American, or Anglo-American in the case of Cohen.

This just clearly doesn't make sense for a global newspaper.

It might make sense for a global edition of the NYT, but it doesn't make sense for the global readership of the IHT, unless the assumption is that we only want to hear American voices. We don't.

We want to hear other voices other than the voices of our national press, but where is the IHT, or even for that matter, NYT columnist in Asia. We have Howard French (excellent) but he is an Asia/China specialist on Page 2, not a columnist.

What the IHT badly needs are two regular columnists, writing on global affairs, one from Africa, and one from Asia for example. (Let's for now take Cohen as a sort of psuedo rep. for Europe). Surely we can dispatch with the services of the tedious, repetitive, American domestic politics obssessed Dowd for example and free room for someone else?

Cost however, and modesty of ambition, remain the key problems for the IHT and its owners, the NYT.

As they fiddle, procastinate, and worry about their share price, they are delaying investing in the paper and making it the world's daily newspaper.

Attack, is what they need to do, boldly and with lots of money.

I'm not sure NY has the balls for it, nor appreciates that steady drip feed cash injection will only result in death anyway, so why not go for it?

In conclusion, does calling the paper the Global Edition of the NYT pose a problem?

No, if you accept the premise that the global edition of the NYT is not a condensed version of the NYT national edition.

Yes, it's a huge problem if that's your goal and you seriously think it will fly internationally. It won't.

It would be like the FT simply publishing its London edition, in condensed form in Asia, Continental Europe and the USA. Which of course it doesn't and has been very succesful.

As to the dingbat, it is a matter of no consequence to me and I am indifferent to its departure.

Most regular readers of the IHT, I bet, if I asked them today, couldn't accurately describe it to you if you asked them to, nor explain the significance of the imagery nor even know that 'thingie' on the masthead is even called a dingbat.

What they haven't addressed on the masthead is the far more important problem, dating from the 1960s when the word International was joined to Herald and Tribune.

Until it doesn't read to NON readers as the Herald International Tribune, or the Herald Tribune,
they wont be able to effectively market this newspaper to non readers, who if they know about it, normally call it the Herald (if French/Belgian/Swiss/more Latin European countries) or the Herald Tribune (Germans/Brits etc) or the Trib (if American/loyal readers).

Removing the dingbat might tighten the gap between calling the paper either the Herald or the Herald Tribune; it won't help people call it the International Herald Tribune (which as our Asian marketing colleagues will tell you, is a hell of a mouthful if English is not your mother tongue).

IHT works as a url - very important - and for the NYT it is lets people visit the international edition of the NYT and lets Americans overseas, or those interested in the U.S.A., still visit www.nytimes.

What they could and should do on both sites, is offer readers the choice of the international edition ( or the domestic one (www.nytimes) when arriving at their site.

This is exactly what the BBC does with its news site, offering the chance to set your preference to not only low graphics and high graphics, but UK or International. Not rocket science.



Vice Versa on the home page of the IHT re. the NYT.

This clearly is a joke, and just chronically intellectually lazy silo thinking given that both newspapers and websites are owned by the same company, so who gives a damn where the reader or revenue goes?

What then does all this tell us?

That calling the IHT the global edition of the NYT is frankly window dressing, more about internal cost savings and processes the reader couldn't care less about.

Is it the road to the International New York Times? Perhaps.

Is that the right road to take?

Where is the greatest brand equity for either the INYT or the IHT?

Where is there the greatest growth for newspapers?

And which brand has the most equity there?

I'd say the NYT, for countries where newspaper growth is at its greatest, the IHT for Western Europe, but you'd be taking a killer hit in your developed markets if the paper didn't retain the spirit and content and non-Manhattan vision of the IHT.

That's where the real brand equity lies, not in the name.

Perhaps, but that's enough free advice for today I think (they still won't talk to me or invite me up for a chat; I'm still like a love sick dog.)

By the way, since everyone knows who I am now, please feel free to explore or which many IHT readers may find particularly interesting in terms of how I don't follow the typical vertical information hierarchies of newspapers.

(I'm not doing a full edition of the IHT as I would like it laid out, but you'll get the general idea.)


Friday, 6 June 2008

International Herald Tribune: 2nd at SOPA

Time Asia and International Herald Tribune top publishing society's awards list
HONG KONG: Time Asia and the International Herald Tribune won the most prizes for editorial excellence this year from the Society of Publishers in Asia in the category for large regional publications.In an awards ceremony Wednesday evening, Time Asia took a total of eight prizes - five top awards and three honorable mentions. Among the awards announced, the weekly newsmagazine was recognized for its coverage of breaking news and news photography in Myanmar.The IHT, the global edition of The New York Times, won a total of seven prizes - three top awards and four honorable mentions. The IHT's awards included human rights reporting from Myanmar and environmental reporting about China. The Financial Times won six prizes, and The Asian Wall Street Journal won four.

In defence of print

Friday's film page in the International Herald Tribune, aka, The Global Edition of the New York Times, is one could reason to keep up your print subscription.

Here am I at 1917 CET trying to find two articles from today's paper on either the IHT or NYT sites, to link to and I can't get them.

One is an article about 'The Betryal', a documentary about a refugee family from Laos, the other about "Monsieur Verdoux" by Charlie Chaplin, recently re-released.

For once print is ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, at another Tribune

Tribune Co. plans sharp cutbacks at papers

Tribune Company newspapers like The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune will quickly cut costs - by printing fewer papers and employing fewer journalists - top company executives said.
Samuel Zell, the chairman and chief executive of Tribune, and Randy Michaels, the company's chief operating officer, revealed the cuts during a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Thursday.
They also said the struggling company has looked at the column inches of news produced by each reporter, and by each paper's news staff. Finding wide variation, they said, they have concluded that it could do without a large number of news employees and not lose much content.
Michaels said of the changes, "This is going to happen quickly."
Zell said, "I promise you he's underestimating the level of aggressiveness with which we are attacking this whole challenge."
They said the company would aim for a 50-50 split between ads and news across all the news pages (excluding classified ads and advertising supplements). Michaels said this would mean eliminating 500 pages of news a week across all of the company's 12 papers.
"If we take, for instance, The Los Angeles Times to a 50-50 ratio, we will be eliminating about 82 pages a week," Michaels said, leaving the smallest papers of the week at 56 news pages.
Since being taken over in an $8.2 billion deal that took the company private in December, Tribune has downsized newspapers that had already been trimmed under the previous regime. During the call and in a note from Zell to Tribune employees, the executives signaled that bigger cuts are coming.
Michaels said that, after measuring journalists' output, "when you get into the individuals, you find out that you can eliminate a fair number of people while eliminating not very much content." He added that he understood that some reporting jobs naturally produce less output than others.
He said that The Los Angeles Times produced 51 pages of news for each journalist there, while the figure for two other Tribune papers, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant, is more than 300 pages. It was not clear whether that meant the ax would fall harder in Los Angeles, or whether the cuts would include Newsday, which Tribune has agreed to sell to Cablevision for $650 million.
The new approach would save on newsroom and newsprint costs, which together typically account for 25 percent to 30 percent of a newspaper's operating costs.
James O'Shea, who was fired recently as editor of The Los Angeles Times for refusing to cut his newsroom staff, said that Michaels's statements showed a misunderstanding of how newspapers work.
"The problem is the papers aren't producing ad revenue, and diminishing the journalism isn't going to solve that," he said. He said it was wrong to think that a paper could cut staff without reducing output and quality.
In his note to employees, Zell wrote that Tribune papers would be redesigned, beginning with The Orlando Sentinel, on June 22. Surveys show readers want "maps, graphics, lists, ranking and stats," he wrote. "We're in the business of satisfying customers, and we will respond to what they say they want."
In an era of fast-falling newspaper ad revenue, Tribune has acknowledged that it barely has the cash flow to service its $12.8 billion in debt, most of which resulted from last year's transaction, and that it must sell assets to meet coming balloon payments. The company plans to sell the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.
"We've finalized the books for the disposition of the team and Wrigley Field," and sent them to Major League Baseball for approval, Zell said in the conference call. "We expect that they will go out to private buyers sometime in the next week. Preliminary bids will be due give or take 30 days thereafter."

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

What didn't come up in Sweden

Circulation in Europe and the United States is tanking.

And online is coming on hard, witness this:

U.S. paper ends print edition to live online
By Noam Cohen
Published: April 28, 2008

With print revenue down and online revenue growing, newspaper executives are anticipating the day when big city dailies and national papers will abandon their print versions.
That day has arrived in Madison, Wisconsin.
Last Saturday, The Capital Times, a fabled 90-year-old daily newspaper founded in response to the jingoist fervor of World War I, stopped printing to devote itself to publishing its daily report on the Web.
(The staff will also produce two print products: a free weekly entertainment guide inserted in the crosstown paper, The Wisconsin State Journal, and a news weekly that will be distributed with the paper.)
An avowedly progressive paper that carried the banner of its founder, William Evjue, The Capital Times is wrapped up with the history of two larger-than-life Wisconsin senators, the elder Robert La Follette (whom it favored) and Joseph McCarthy (whom it opposed). But in recent years, the paper's circulation dropped to about 18,000 from a high in the 1960s of more than 40,000.
"We felt our audience was shrinking so that we were not relevant," Clayton Frink, the publisher of The Capital Times, said in an interview two days before the final daily press run. "We are going a little farther, a little faster, but the general trend is happening everywhere."
The transition in Madison, while long foretold - The Capital Times was doubly part of a dying breed in the United States, being the afternoon paper in a two-newspaper town - has hardly been neat, clean and cathartic.
More than 20 members of the newsroom staff lost their jobs, mainly through buyouts, but also through layoffs. Each departing journalist was profiled in the final paper, and lives on at the Web site under the headline "A Fond Farewell to Talented Colleagues," with a "class photo" taken next to the presses.
The new staff total will be in the 40s. This includes seven new hires in areas like Web producing and arts coverage. Copy editors, by contrast, are "exiting at a higher rate than reporters," said Paul Fanlund, the editor who arrived from The State Journal in 2006.
The Web strategy, while seen as a long-term solution, is still a work in progress, Fanlund said. It revolves around a portal,, which is owned under the same joint arrangement mandating that both Madison papers share revenues, though they are editorially independent.
The Capital Times will operate a nearly continuous Web newsroom and focus on repurposing online the cultural and entertainment material the staff will begin to produce in the supplement, 77 Square, to be inserted in The State Journal.
"If there is a window of opportunity for newspapers on the Web, it is locally," said James Baughman, director of the University of Wisconsin journalism school in Madison. "The reason the online version of the Cap Times may have life is that opportunity."
Once upon a time in the United States and elsewhere, the afternoon newspaper was the Internet of its day, Baughman said, giving afternoon baseball scores and stock market reports in a quick turnaround. It was the more lucrative slot as a result.
The liberal afternoon newspaper still has a sympathetic audience in Madison, but the changing pace of news is more important. "The political activism is there, you can't deny it," he said of Madison's newspaper readers, "but they want the morning box scores."
And while Fanlund takes pain to stress the need to continue the progressive editorials and watchdog role of the reinvented Capital Times, it is sports that serves as a perfect example of the changes he said have been long overdue.
As an afternoon paper that did not publish Sundays, his sportswriters would be covering a college football game and "it would be 48 hours until the articles would be read," he said.
But the decision to migrate online, and in free weeklies, necessarily involves reinventing the core mission at the newspaper and the core audience.
In its account of The Capital Times's last daily press run, The State Journal reported that it had "succeeded in garnering most of The Capital Times's former subscribers and will see its average daily circulation rise from 89,000 to at least 104,000 starting Monday."
The final editorial of the print daily pledged itself to its founder's purpose as "an independent voice for peace and economic and social justice that speaks truth to power each and every day."
The editorial evoked him to give his endorsement of the steps the newspaper is taking: "He would caution us not to worry about the form The Capital Times takes, but rather to be concerned with the content and character of our message."

News from Goteborg

It's the World Association of Newspapers annual shindig at the moment, held in Goteborg Sweden. It began on Monday and finishes today, and is made up of a three-day meeting of 1,800 senior news media leaders.

Here are some edited highlights:

Kasparov: Putin killed Russia free press
Kasparov said Putin and his colleagues must be faced with complaints about press freedoms.
"Make sure they have to respond and make sure your governments raise the issue," he told about 200 senior news industry executives at an invitation-only luncheon during the World Newspaper Congress in Sweden.


Newsroom leaders condemn UN rights council
A world congress of newspapers condemned the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday, saying it has repeatedly sought to undermine freedom of the press to protect religious sensibilities.
The council's "proper role is to defend freedom of expression and not to support the censorship of opinion at the request of autocracies," said a resolution adopted by the World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum.

The three-day meeting of 1,800 senior news media leaders, which opened Monday, also adopted six other resolutions Tuesday.
It expressed deep concern over the growing tendency of sports organizations to restrict media coverage of events; called on China to release imprisoned journalists and honor the press freedom commitments it made before the Beijing Games; and condemned widespread press freedom violations during the recent presidential election in Zimbabwe.
It also appealed to African leaders to abolish libel and criminal defamation laws and to promote press freedoms; urged new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to "decisively support and promote freedom of the press in Russia"; and condemned the continued imprisonment of 14 journalists in Eritrea.

Study shows digital news media growing fast; expert warns papers against rush into Internet
As readership and revenues shift onto the Internet, experts said on Tuesday that top news media executives must seek new digital opportunities without neglecting their traditional print publications by rushing headlong into cyberspace.
The second annual World Digital Media Trends report, released at a meeting of the World Association of Newspapers, said the digital platforms of newspapers are growing at a double-digit rate worldwide, as the world increasingly goes on line. The report, compiled with the help of 71 research groups, said digital and mobile advertising revenues are expected to increase 12-fold from 2002 to 2011, to about $150 billion worldwide.
The report said the number of wireless device subscriptions is expected to increase threefold to 3.4 billion from 2002 to 2011, the number of homes with broadband is likely to rise 10-fold in the same period, and the mobile telephone customer base has increased from 945 million in 2001 to 2.6 billion in 2006.
The report said one study says that in some countries "the Internet will become the primary news and information source within five years, while newspapers will lose the dominating position they have held for more than a century." Newspapers cannot count on their print editions alone to keep them solvent, the report said.
However, association President Gavin O'Reilly warned that newspapers should not rush unprepared into new mobile and Internet markets and said about 60 percent of the new revenues goes to two companies, the search engine giants Google and Yahoo.
"The Net is a wonderful place if you know what you are looking for," he said at a panel debate about digital media's impact on newspaper revenues. "But we run the risk that running headlong into digital will turn our dollars into pennies."
Newspaper companies must also continue to invest in the medium they know best — printed editions — since there are few accurate overviews of the impact of Internet revenues on newspapers, he said.
But O'Reilly dismissed the notion that newspapers would soon be a relic of the past because they "are not up for the challenge — or indeed, the many opportunities — that the digital world offers."
"All of us in the industry know the big strategic issues and challenges at play in the fast evolving digital world; and, the really successful publishers are those who recognize and capitalize on the newspapers' relative position in the busy media matrix. Happily, that is the majority of publishers today," he said.

At a separate panel debate for newspaper editors, Jim Roberts, editor for digital news at the New York Times, said "I expect our print edition to be around for a long time."
Even after newspapers generate enthusiasm among their traditional print staff for new media, they still have to find and provide the resources and qualified personnel for doing both, he said.

Newspaper circulation rising globally, but down in US, Europe, study shows
Global newspaper circulation is rising, buoyed by demand in Asia and South America — belying predictions of the demise of print journalism, officials said at the start of an international newspaper conference.
Circulation of paid newspapers rose 2.6 percent worldwide in 2007, with the biggest jump in India and China — which is now the largest market for newspapers with 107 million copies sold daily, according to a report by the World Associated of Newspapers.
However, readership continued to slip in the U.S. and Europe, where traditional dailies face stiff competition from free newspapers and digital media, the study showed.
Officials said the findings were cause for a degree of optimism about the industry.
"They say newspapers and print are dead. Well, I just don't see it," the association's president, Timothy Balding, told more than 1,800 publishers, editors and other senior newspapers executives Monday at the three-day conference.
The strong sales in Asia, which is home to 74 of the world's 100 best-selling dailies, contrasted starkly with declining newspaper readership in the West.
Last year, circulation fell 3 percent in the U.S. and 1.9 percent in Europe, the report showed; over the past five years, circulation has been down 8 percent in the U.S.
Advertising followed a similar trend. Newspaper advertising revenue rose in all regions except the United States, where it fell 3 percent in 2007, the report said.
Meanwhile, Internet advertising revenue worldwide was up 32 percent, showing the rapid growth of online media.

Research presented at the conference also indicated an accelerating shift from print to online media, and that editors are increasingly aware of the need to develop multimedia platforms in order to reach new audiences.
At a panel discussion, AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained AP's new model for news delivery.
Called "1-2-3 filing," it starts with a news alert headline for breaking news, followed by a short present-tense story predominantly for the Web and broadcasters. The third step is to add details and format stories in ways most appropriate for different news platforms.
"I can't emphasize to you the importance of present tense both in the newsroom and for the end user. It's very much about news that is happening. It gives the news a sense of immediacy" Carroll said. "The 3 then can become any number of things: a longer story, a multimedia presentation or nothing at all."
A study commissioned by The Associated Press showed young adults have profoundly different news consumption patterns from previous generations.
"People don't walk out to the driveway to collect their newspaper. They open their e-mail," Jim Kennedy, AP's director of strategic planning, said in presenting the study.
The research project, carried out by the Context-Based Research Group, also showed young adults experience news fatigue from being inundated by facts and updates and have trouble accessing in-depth stories.
A worldwide survey of 704 newspaper editors by Zogby International and Reuters showed 44 percent believed most people would be reading their news online in 10 years. That was up from 41 percent in a similar study last year.
Balding said a survey of Nordic newspaper editors suggested they see free newspapers as their main competitors, followed by the Internet. Free dailies account for nearly 7 percent of global newspaper circulation and 23 percent of circulation in Europe, the report said.

Earlier Monday, the newspaper association gave its annual Golden Pen of Freedom award to Chinese journalist Li Changqing, who was released in February after two years in prison for reporting on an outbreak of dengue fever.
Li could not travel to Sweden to accept the award because he was unable to obtain a passport, WAN said. Li Jianhong, an exiled Chinese writer, accepted the award on the winner's behalf.
"In China, being a journalist is full of risks," Li Changqing said in an acceptance speech read by Li Jianhong.
It was the second consecutive year that the prize went to a Chinese journalist, underscoring China's continuing harsh press restrictions despite the flourishing economy and rapid social change.
The 2007 award went to Shi Tao, who was serving a 10-year-sentence after e-mailing the contents of a government propaganda circular to a human rights forum in the United States.
"Despite the promises it made in its successful Olympic bid to improve conditions for journalists, China has continued its repressive policies," World Editors Forum President George Brock said in presenting this year's award.
He said 30 journalists and 50 cyber-dissidents are now in Chinese jails and reiterated calls for their release.
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf opened the congress saying a free press was "crucial to the development of democracy" but cautioned that it also must be exercised with responsibility.

Which books get to be reviewed and why?

Here's an email I wrote to the Assistant Managing Editor of the IHT, Katherine Knorr, who looks after, inter alia, what is known as 'the back of the book'.

Just in case you don't know, the Walter and Patricia referred to in this email, posted below, are Walter Wells, the ex-executive editor of the IHT, and his wife, Patricia, the paper's long-standing restaurant critic.

Dear Katherine,

OK, full disclosure: I like Walter even though he may well just humour me and think I was, and am, a commercial side jerk. I haven't read his book, I hear their editors weren't that interested in all the IHT stuff so hopefully I escaped without a shoeing.

But I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read today's review [ ]. Too cruel. But my God, the picture on the web of the cover! Priceless.

Here's the thing: I too am an ex-IHT senior executive, albeit on the non-editorial side, and I too have written a book called A PLACE IN MY COUNTRY which was published by Wiedenfeld and Nicolson (London) last summer in hardback, and came out 1st May, 2008 in paperback (Phoenix).

I wrote to Walter, sent him a copy, asking him if he would be interested in reading it and reviewing it for the IHT.

He wrote back, said nice things about it, and raised two obstacles to it not getting into the IHT.

The first was 'conflict of interest'.

I'm not quite sure what he meant by that but I have noted no conflict of interest obstacles to blocking either the half page back page 'International Life' feature that recently ran in the IHT about his and Patricia's book, nor him being Patricia's boss when he was editor, nor in getting a review into today's paper.

The second obstacle was that you, according to Walter, refuse to review books which are not published in the USA.

If that is true that's a shame, because firstly, my book hasn't got an American publisher (and I sure would like one, so if know anyone in that world please do let me know and I will send them a copy - it would be much appreciated).

Secondly, there are as you know many good books out there, in English (including many translations of international writers not yet published in the USA) and perhaps now that the IHT is the global edition of the NYT it is a good time to revisit that policy? It doesn't sound very global to me, if it is indeed true.

However, a review of my book might also be of interest to IHT readers for four simple reasons:

  • the main narrator of the book used to be on the executive board of the IHT, the youngest I think in its history at that time, and it drove him to having pretty much a nervous breakdown, which is why he left.
  • the book is about returning to one's country of birth after many years away - in my case a decade largely serving our Lords and Masters in NY - and having to re-learn one's own country and sense of personal identity within it. That's something I think many, many IHT readers have had to, or will have to, confront.
  • the book has been extremely well reviewed, including by the FT, so it's not a bad book I'd like to think. (Please see the end of this email for those reviews from left, centre, and right in the UK broadsheets.)
  • I have been published by the IHT, which - and I will be absolutely honest with you about this, rather pathetic and slavish as it may sound - was one of the proudest days of my life. I had a number of emails from IHT readers, via my web site and they seemed to like my style.

Could I please ask you whether you would be prepared to put it out to review? Or perhaps think about it as a feature for your next At Home Abroad?

I know MOST but not all of your book reviews come from the NYT but would you make an exception, given the above?

(NB I'm not asking for a half page colour photo interview here at my home now in the Auvergne, although.... that would be nice and it might make for quite interesting reading about the IHT then and now, and its future.)

Anyway, it is I suppose not the done thing to be so blatant in asking for a book review, but I wrote to Sir Peter Stothard at the TLS, personally, asking him whether he would consider it, and funnily enough they ran a review, so there is precedent in my madness. (By the way, he is I think a very big fan of the IHT/NYT.)

Plus, and I'll be frank again, I kind of need the help here Katherine, so would you please at least consider it?

I would expect no more or less of a savaging than the one dished out to Walter and Patricia, and it will probably be well deserved for my temerity.

Hoping you are well; loving the paper as ever, which hits my post box at exactly 1.00 pm even here in deepest France. I don't think there could be an IHT reader who loves and reads it more closely than me and to have my first book reviewed in its pages would be, well, another very proud day.

(Check out, if you have a moment, what I am doing with the IHT at www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot : I am convinced the future of newspapers lies not in removing clear distinctions between news, news analysis, opinion and commentary, but in reorganising their [now outmoded] vertical information hierarchies e.g seperate pages for Europe, Asia, Business, Culture, Travel etc. Newspaper editors need to stand back and take a helicopter view on the day's news, not just the front page, and bring the day's events into something more resembling a daily narrative. This is what I try to do with my blog, using IHT material, to demonstrate how this might be done. Riffing off the MSM I think a well known editor once called it, except I don't riff really, rather I rap, and that could be a metaphor for what I call 'information ebru' on my blog. I'd love to come up and talk to the bigwigs about this concept, and how to market the paper, but I haven't yet got an invite. Still waiting like a love-sick dog.)

Kind regards,

(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, hardcover July 2007; Phoenix paperback May 1, 2008 (the ones that have been published since May 1st, 2008, for the paperback are marked in bold; the rest were for the hardback)

'Stressed city couple seeks slower life in Cotswolds idyll'. The premise is so familiar there's even a predictably technical term for it: 'downshifting'. Yet it's hard to think in those terms about A Place in My Country, given the care with which Ian Walthew has skirted all the sprung traps of nostalgia and sentiment. A thoughtful observer and magpie-ish collector of oral history, Walthew has a sharp sense of the absurdities and the assets of his native land, reinforced by years living overseas. In his country life, escaped cows and the hunt ball jostle for space with barn raves and hawkish property developers. Avoiding the usual bland elegy for the rustic and redemptive, his book is a valuable memoir, both personal and social, a meditation on belonging in one of many Englands.
The Observer, 25/08/08

‘I have been reading about the British countryside all my life but this is the first post-modern take on a national asset so routinely taken for granted. Author Ian Walthew takes a 12-inch plough to the cosy complacency that so many apply to the subject and reveals that 21st century rural life is not a place for the genteel - in a corner of Gloucestershire most commonly viewed by outsiders from their 4x4s as they hurry to overpriced weekend retreats, he finds a farming heartbeat that is proud and defiant, defended by a cast of characters that outshine The Archers. A revelation of a book.’
Tim Butcher, 16/05/08
Author of Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
(Galaxy Book of the Year 2008, 3rd Prize Winner)

'Far from being an idealistic paen to the English countryside, the book becomes a hard-edged and moving account of life rural Britain today.'
Sunday Times 11/05/08

'a poignant portrait of country life....the book could have been a rollicking, laugh-a-minute riff on ignorant townies having to ask what exactly a heifer is. There are certainly some fine comic episodes.. but it quickly turns into something more sombre - and more interesting...His beautifully written book is an elegy for an England that is dying, or at least in terminal decline.'
Daily Telegraph 25/04/08

‘Ian Walthew was a newspaper executive with a career that took him round the world, who one day did a mad thing. He saw a for-sale sign on a cottage in the Cotswolds, bought it, resigned and moved in. For the first few weeks he just lay on the grass in a daze. Then he started talking to his neighbours and digging into the rich history of this beautiful part of England. Out of his inquiries grew this affecting and inspiring memoir.
What sets it apart from others of its ilk is the author’s enviable immunity to cliché and his determination to love his homeland better than he used to. His elegiac account of relearning how to be an Englishman should be required reading for anyone who claims to know or love this country.’
Financial Times

‘Having lived and worked abroad as a director of the International Herald Tribune for most of his adult life, Walthew, along with his Australian wife, Han, made a snap decision, aged 34, to buy a house in Gloucestershire, and embrace life in the country.
This is familiar territory, but Walthew combines his own story - coming to terms with the untimely deaths of his father and brother - with that of the land and the people who make up village life.
Funny, touching and ultimately very moving, this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England.’
Sunday Telegraph

‘Even peripheral characters…really come to life; as does the beauty of the Cotswolds and the harsh realities it conceals. A Place in My Country is an edifying consideration of the English countryside, its rich history and its attempt to adapt in today’s world’
Times Literary Supplement

‘When stressed out media exec Ian Walthew panic buys a Cotswold cottage as an escape route from the urban treadmill, he unwittingly acquires a window on a corner of rural Britain at work and at play, and his writer’s eye sees just what’s going on. Walthew has a genuine gift for bringing both people and places to life and marshals his runaway real life narratives with a novelist’s skill. The story of his surprising friendship with his neighbour Norman - who is trying to keep his ramshackle farm and his dignity together with a few strands of baler twine, while his millionaire neighbours embrace the prairie concept of modern industrial farming - is compelling and often deeply moving. And Walthew’s own struggle with age-old issues of identity, friendship, community and a place to call home are fresh, sympathetic and never trying. It’s not the sort of book you’d pick up expecting a page-turner, but that’s exactly what it turn's out to be.’
Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall

’Unlike many escape to the country books this is a revealing and sometimes painful account of life in 21st century English countryside. Walthew discovers how class and wealth splinter rural communities but also finds personal contentment, if not a perfect idyll. It is beautifully written and very moving. This is a great book, if you like to have your misconceptions about our land thoroughly challenged’
BBC Countryfile Magazine

‘This is a story about a man who leaves the reassuring numbness of the rat race, in order to relearn how to live. Not usually a non-fiction reader, I'm generally wary of 'confessional' books, which I often find narcissistic and dull. A Place in My Country is beautifully written, poignant and wise and has all the narrative pace of the best fiction. For anyone who loves England but doesn't necessarily know why.’
Lucy Wadham, Author of Lost, Castro’s Dream, Greater Love (Faber and Faber)
Her first novel, 'Lost', was shortlisted for the Macallan Gold Dagger Award.

‘A tale of moving to the country that even those who actually live and work there might enjoy…’
The Shooting Times

‘All of life is here – birth, death, struggles with illness, hard work, lots of laughter. It will make you smile gently to yourself, laugh out loud, shed a quiet tear and feel angry about the changes happening in our countryside’
NFU Countryside Magazine

‘A riveting read....a warning to newcomers about the dangers of upsetting village hierarchies and sensibilities'
Country Life

‘One of “The Top Ten Summer Holiday Books You Must Own”
Mail on Sunday

‘At the age of 34 Ian Walthew was the worldwide marketing director of the International Herald Tribune living in various parts of the world and leading a jet-set lifestyle. He was also on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Faced with a move back to London, he resigned and rather than buy a property in London he and his Australian wife bought a cottage in the Cotswolds to give Ian the peace which he needed to recuperate.
The cottage was next door to Norman's farm. Norman was a bit fearsome until you got to know him, but his struggles to keep the farm going in the face of falling prices and competition from the highly mechanised 'agri-business' arable farms kept him under a lot of pressure. Little by little Ian and Han develop a relationship with Norman and the other characters of this tightly-knit community.
When I started this book I did wonder if it was going to be an English version of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence - an amusing and entertaining read but ultimately rather superficial. I couldn't have been further from the truth. This isn't just the story of two people wanting an escape from the city; it's an examination of the state of the British countryside and a careful consideration of whether or not the way of life is sustainable. At times the writing had me close to tears.
The stars of this book are the people. Although Ian narrates the book he doesn't dominate it, but allows the villagers to shine through. It was fascinating to see his relationship with them develop after it was initially assumed by some people in the village that he and Han would be part of a more upper-class set. The couple's growing relationship with Norman sees him take a fuller part in village life. Geoff, the larger than life landlord of the local pub becomes a firm friend, but it's Tom, the ex-gamekeeper, to whom Ian becomes closest and who introduces him to the real country way of life.
.t's several days now since I finished the book, but I was so moved by it that I didn't feel able to write about it immediately. It's by no means an easy read, but it's one of the most rewarding books that I've read for quite a while.’
Reviewer: Sue Magee