Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Now who remembers Martin Baker?

A financial thriller that could have been so much better
Johnathan Pearce (London)
Book reviews
Martin Baker, the UK journalist - he worked for several years at the International Herald Tribune in Paris as one of his stints - is someone who has realised that there is an untapped seam out there to be mined: thrillers about the world of finance. I have often myself wondered why, considering how much news is written about financial speculators these days, that there have not been more novels with speculators and the like as the main characters. There are some exceptions: there is Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of The Vanities; there is, of course, Ayn Rand's great celebration of capitalism in Atlas Shrugged, although the book is more about industry than money-lending. The novel Cash McCall is a neglected 1950s classic. Occasionally financiers feature in other novels but that is pretty much it. As for movies, ask anyone about a fictional presentation of a Wall Street speculator or City buyout king, and they will say Wall Street, with the glorious Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas. And he was supposed to be a baddie, remember.
Mr Baker wants to plug a bit of a gap and he has written a thriller called
Meltdown, which came out a little while ago. I picked up my signed copy and a few days ago, I read it. I am afraid I have to say the book comes as a bit of disappointment. If a movie is ever made out of it, it could be toe-curlingly embarrassing unless they sort out some of the plot and characters.
Without giving away a rambling plot, the protagonist is a brilliant young Oxford academic called Samuel Spendlove, who is persuaded to be employed by some shady media types to spy on a bank in Paris, to discover the doings of a proprietary trader who makes gazillions of dollars on deals, to report back on his affairs, and presumably, to bring said shady trader to book. What we get is what I might call the "misadventures of Samuel", a story of a once-innocent academic fallen among knaves. There are sex scenes so bad that I fear for Martin Baker's reputation. And they add nothing to the plot. There is a feeling that we need a least a bit of sex in there to clinch a movie deal for the novel. Much of the dialogue between the main characters is clunky and lacks believability. I have worked in finance and the media and can state without qualification that yes, there are some nasty pieces of work in both, but they do not talk as Martin Baker has them talking, at least not all the time.
Also, the plot does not make a lot of sense, and the central premise: that a single proprietary desk dealer and a few buddies can bring down not just a couple of other banks, but wipe out parts of the global economy, simply does not stand up to scrutiny, although it plays to the notion that bankers are "Masters of the Universe" with deep and dark powers. Of course, there can be spectacular blowups and we are witnessing some of that now, as the recent cases of Northern Rock and Bear Stearns prove, and as Barings and Long Term Capital Management did before it. But the idea that one private bank can cause a major recession seems over the top; to do that, they need the assistance, however unintended, of governments and central banks. For sure, in a thriller, a bit of licence is okay, but you need enough believability to carry the reader along. I do not think Mr Baker quite pulls this off.
Perhaps my biggest disappointment is not the credibility of the plot, but that the character of Spendlove is not quite convincing: he seems too gullible. I never quite believe that such a smart guy could let his media puppetmasters treat him like so badly. We never really find out what motivated his media controllers to act as they did. If I were Spendlove, I'd tell his bosses to get lost and go back to doing something more intelligent instead. He lacks depth; we do not really get to grips with what makes him tick as a character beyond a desire to get some excitement away from the academic world and earn pots of money.
There are good things about the novel, to be fair. Mr Baker knows how finance works or at least he knows about the jargon used around it; he has a good feel for what a dealing room looks like, how people in these places act and he sometimes gets the dialogue right. As a journalist, he has an excellent understanding of how markets move on rumours, how news services like Reuters or Dow Jones cover the news and how bankers' hours get elongated by time-zones. Some of the touches are a bit cliched, but the cliches do not grate too much.
Generally speaking, however, I rate this book as a two out of five, with five as the top score and one as poor. There is a great, contemporary novel to be written that has the doings of financiers at its core and which does not pander to the notion that moneymaking is a zero-sum game. Mr Baker does at least understand, to his credit, that there is a yawning gap in the arts world's treatment of finance. It is a bit of a shame that he has not really filled it. Maybe the next one will be better.

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2008/06/a_financial_thr.html


IHT/NYT identity crisis.

I'm a little confused, in the new order of the Global Edition of the NYT, who exactly works for who, and who gets to be called what. In particular I am talking about journalists.



New York Times journalists and IHT journalists are no longer distinguised within the paper. Yet online, articles by NYT journalists are clearly described as such, ditto articles by IHT journalists being described as being by IHT journalists.



Now we come to an Opinion piece run under the heading 'The Fulbright Seven'.



To quote it:



After reporting in The International Herald Tribune by Ethan Bronner drew high-level American attention, top State Department officials intervened to restore the students' Fulbright fellowships that lower-level functionaries had notified them would be withdrawn.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/08/opinion/edfulbright.php



Now, Ethan Bronner works for the NYT, not the IHT, so techincally, that would be 'after reporting in the NYT by Ethan Bronner'......



And if the IHT is the global edition of the NYT, why the misleading suggestion from the above piece that it was reporting in the IHT, as opposed to say the NYT, that resulted in the intervention of State.



Clearly, what we have here are some inconsistencies that need ironing out, but perhaps most baffling is why http://www.iht.com/ continues (to my mind usefully) to differentiate between NYT and IHT journalists, and the print edition doesn't.



And the ironing out is coming.



I was reflecting on a recent posting I made about how the BBC online news service offered two editions - a domestic one or an international one - , something of course that CNN does too, and I pondered why the NYT and IHT do not do the same. And if they did, would the international, or rather global edition of the NYT, take you to the IHT web site.



Well, I've been ruminating on this, and that just seems plain inconsistent, and in an age of remorseless cost cutting, what possible sense does it make for the same newspaper (the NYT) to run, maintain and develop two web sits - http://www.nytimes/ and http://www.iht.com/



Clearly it doesn't.



I'd say the smart money would be on the demise of http://www.iht.com/ in the coming 6-18 months.



So if you like http://www.iht.com/ (and I do, a lot) and you find the design of http://www.nytimes.com/ to be ugly, crowded and dated, then enjoy http://www.iht.com/ while you can.



The problem with Manhattan/American design sensibilities is that they just aren't very global. The graphics, typeface etc of http://www.iht.com/ is much more cosmopolitan, than the metropolitan, parochial, grey of http://www.nytimes.com/ But try telling that to a designer at http://www.nytimes.com/





Now, if http://www.iht.com/ were to be rolled into http://www.nytimes.com/ (and that's just purely a guess, based on logical thinking and an atmosphere of cost cutting - and http://www.iht.com/ is an easy hit), where do they go then with the IHT brand if it doesn't have an online presence?



I think they're going to ditch it. I think they believe if the IHT brand had value, it would have made money for them by now, so what's the benefit of keeping the legacy, and they're probably also considering the PR benefit of killing the IHT. (That's to say: lots of coverage.)



Sadly, that won't solve their problems.



I'm pragmatic. I don't care if the dingbat goes, I don't really care if the IHT brand goes, although I think they would run a real risk of losing a lot of their luxury and fashion advertising.



As a reader, what I want is a truly global newspaper, with no national bias or narrow editorial perspective. Being called the International NYT doesn't, per se, preclude that. But if they don't set that as their mission, as distinct to how they write for and edit for a U.S. audience, they can call it whatever they like, it won't fly globally.



From a business perspective however, I still think there is brand value in the IHT which the NYT haven't yet understood how they could leverage it. And it's all pretty obvious stuff.













http://www.ianwalthew.com/

http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/

More is Not More

On the subject of less is more, the thick newspaper that arrived in my postbox on Monday 9th June, had the dreaded promise, at an official paginagtion of 28 pages, of a very large sponsored section, or what the NYT has now decided should be called Advertising Supplements.

About Nigeria, it took up pages 17-24.

Naturally I, and I presume most IHT readers, didn't even scan it, let alone read it.

Back in the day they weren't afforded the 'status' of book pagination. That is to say, a seperate Roman Numeral pagination would be used, keeping in this case the 'official pagination' at 20 pages. Yet now these 8 pages of pap are given all the glory of a regular news page.

I don't much care for that.

Nor do I care for increasing sloppiness in not clearly identifying text rich advertisements as such. On page 7 was a very 'newsy' looking quater page about www.ruvr.ru - Voice of Russia. It should have been, in my humble opinion, tagged clearly as an advertisement. This type of thing used to SOP; less so now. I don't know why.



www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

U.S. newspapers try a less is more approach

If you're feeling comfortable about the future of newspapers, read this piece.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/09/technology/zell.php

Is Sam Zell right about the U.S. newspaper business?
Last week, Zell, chairman and chief executive of Tribune, and Randy Michaels, chief operating officer, announced a set of deep cuts, saying that shrinking revenue left them no choice.
They said they would trim 500 pages of news each week from the company's dozen papers, including The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. Their aim is a paper with pages - excluding classified advertising and special ad sections - split 50-50 between news content and ads.
Journalists may recoil, but is a thinner, flashier, more local newspaper, with a smaller newsroom staff, the best financial model for an industry that is enduring a painful contraction with no end in sight?
Conversations with analysts and executives yielded an impassioned argument on that subject - it is a question they have asked themselves many times - but no consensus.


But watering down the product hurts staff morale, he said, and if taken too far, "could accelerate the migration of readers to the Web or other sources of news."
John Morton, an independent newspaper analyst, says he thinks that tipping point has already arrived at many papers.
"To the extent you diminish your product, I think you diminish your success, in print or online," he said. "In the long run, it's going to be harmful to newspapers' brand names, which is the strongest thing they've got."
As newspapers suffer through steep losses in circulation and advertising, Morton said, many of them have accelerated the process by offering readers less, trying to cut costs and preserve unrealistic profit margins. "It's a strategy, basically, of gradually closing down," he said.


When I read these types of articles, I have a strong sense that newspaper executives just don't have a strategy for survival, and that newspaper editors and journalists strategy for survival is to hope they get to a pensionable of buy out age.





www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

Monday, 9 June 2008

Who is Moon of Alabama? What IS the value of print?

I recently posted on a blogger who picked apart some issues concerning how the NYT explained oil price movements.

So who was this blogger and www.iht.com reader?

'Moon of Albama', AKA Jay, is of course a US citizen.

Here's what he wrote to me about the IHT:

"As a matter of fact, I do read IHT on line, and in April, when I was in the Netherlands, I'd pick it up daily to read on the train. (I was following the Democratic primaries.) Yeah, it's a great paper. When I lived in London, I subscribed to the print edition; it was one of my links to "home," but gave me news of Europe, too."

So from an advertising perspective, not an ideal candidate for the print story, and an exact template for any agency who says the IHT is read by US expats/travellers who want to keep in touch with home - but perhaps a great profile for the online ad sell, if only the IHT knew, or anyone knew, who the hell Jay actually was and what he did.

With online readers coming through the side door, with no registration, even if it is free, what can the IHT sell? Unique visitors, usual online advertising BS, where they are from and some probably rather weak online surveys of www.iht.com readers.

Click-through then, surely, is only the way sites like www.iht.com will eventually be able to sell advertising on, just like Google. I'm just not convinced there's enough money in that, on the volumes a site like www.iht.com can offer. So that leads us to the question of click through and client contact or even conversion. Tricky. Glad I'm not selling advertising for iht.com.

As of right now IHT advertising can't say much more than 'readers of www.iht.com' are like Moon of Alabama', who is actually called Jay.

Knowing the first names of one's readers isn't much use in a pitch.

I guess the question for everyone is, as ever: what's the model, stupid?

According to Krugman everything that can be digitized will be given away for free, sooner or later. What if that's to include online advertising? Now I am confused.

Personally, I'm not yet buying the premise that the future of newspapers is online. Way too soon to call that one, not because people won't read them online, but because they haven't cracked the revenue nut.

I'd be working on those print strategies myself. At least for a while. Because what can't be digitized is the 'value of print' as a user experience.

What SDJ needs to work out for the IHT is how to augment 'the value of print' of the IHT print product.

What can print give the reader that online or Kindle can't?

What IS the value of print?

I've a few ideas on this.





http://www.ianwalthew.com/
http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/

Pearl Lam is an IHT fan

A Life in the Day: Pearl Lam
Lam, a powerful player on China’s fashionable art scene, is the daughter of the late Hong Kong business tycoon Lim Por-yen. Single, she runs her art export business from her penthouse in Shanghai and her homes in Hong Kong and London.

"I get up around 7.30. My Filipino housekeeper, Venus, wakes me — unless I get up before her, then I’ll wake her up. I live on the top floor — the 22nd — of a building my family built a few years ago in the French Concession district of Shanghai. It’s beautiful. My room looks out onto a tropical landscaped garden, so the first thing I see in the morning is a Chinese pavilion, lots of bamboo, lotus flowers, plum blossoms, banana plants, magnolia, and a pond where I put my big goldfish for good feng shui.
I love the energy of Shanghai. It’s very cultural, unlike Hong Kong, which is sophisticated but a cultural desert. I never used to want to live here — it was too near Hong Kong, my mother’s home, and I wanted to be free from familial obligations and pressure. But I love it now. It’s taught me how to be Chinese.
I normally check my e-mails in bed and read the online editions of the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. "

http://flyingmonkeys.cn/




www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

If only Think! were the official blog for readers of the IHT

A 'drunken expat' [ http://bart-calendar.livejournal.com/ ] is happy to have been linked to www.ihtreaders.blogspot.com, writing
that 'the official blog for readers of the International Herald Tribune is linking to me today'.

I'd like to say it was official. It's very much not.

I think it would be great if it was an intergral part of www.iht.com but I am not sure they are quite confident enough in their own skin for such a maverick beast in their belly.

But it does bring up the question of why not? There are are many devoted IHT fans worldwide who I believe would enjoy a forum to praise and keep 'their paper' on their toes, complain too (let's not forget that most letters of complaint are neither published nor even passed onto the publisher or marketing director, addressed in large part as they are to the editor), but haven't found this blog.

The question is, how to reach them?

Certainly a daily free house advertisement in the IHT would help, as would a prominent link on www.iht.com

It would require them to respect the editorial independence of this blog, and to trust me that I, and their readers, have their best interests at heart. Which I don't think is too big an ask.

Incidentally, the drunken expat writes that being quoted on this blog was 'more of a response he received from the IHT', which brings to mind two questions.

1. How many letters of complaint from IHT readers did the IHT receive about the change of the masthead and what did they say; what was the majority consensus?

If any IHT insider can give Think! a steer on this, it would be appreciated.

2. Why wouldn't the editor of the IHT take the time to reply to someone who is clearly a loyal reader? (Even if he is a drunken American expat in Montpellier and hardly whom the IHT's advertisers are trying to reach - or perhaps they are, if he is a trustafarian and has a taste for luxury goods.)

One can generally say that for every letter of complaint a newspaper receives on a given subject, there are at least 10 other readers who didn't write.

My guess is that they didn't get too many letters of complaint on this, and this may encourage them to think further about which brand to move forward with...





www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

Sunday, 8 June 2008

NYT Changes Reasoning For Recent Oil Rise

I covered this one off myself at http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/, this Friday last, although in the rather unusual style of that blog.

However, here's a more 'on the nose' posting about this, pointing out discrepancies between the NYT and its global edition.

Here's what 'Moon of Alabama' had to say:

NYT Changes Reasoning For Recent Oil Rise: Friday June 7th 2008
Oil prices had their biggest gains ever on Friday, jumping nearly $11 to a new record above $138 a barrel, after a senior Israeli politician raised the specter of an attack on Iran and the dollar fell sharply against the euro.
Reasons given for the oil rise: A. Israel, B. Dollar
The above is how
Laura Rozen and dozens of other people quote the first graph of a story in today's New York Times.
But when I read
the piece under the same URL a bit later the sequence of the NYT's explanation for the rise of oil prices had changed.
The rise in oil prices turned into a stampede on Friday with futures jumping a staggering $11 a barrel to set a record above $138 a barrel. The unprecedented surge came as the dollar fell sharply against the euro and a senior Israeli politician once again raised the possibility of an attack against Iran.
Reasons now given for the oil rise: A. Dollar, B. Israel
It is not only the opening paragraph that changed.
The complete earlier version of the piece is still
carried by the International Herald Tribune. It expands on the threat from Israel in the sixth paragraph and on the dollar fall in the ninth.
The
later 'corrected' version at the NYT site expands on the dollar in the fifth paragraph and on a possible Israeli attack on Iran in the eighth.
Which version is factual more correct in its emphasis?
Yesterday the US dollar index
fell by 0.93% from 73.066 to 72.390. Crude futures for August delivery went up by 7.8% from 128.13 to 138.16.
Is a less than 1% change in the U.S. dollar the prime explaining factor for a 7.8% rise in crude oil?
Or is a
threat of another war on the second biggest OPEC producer by Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz the more important reason for the oil rise?
"If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," said Mr Mofaz, referring to pressure by the United Nations security council to end Iran's disputed programme of uranium enrichment. "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable."
The answer seems obvious to me. The market freaked because of the war drums, not because of a slight dollar move.
So why did the NYT editor change the piece and preferred to cite the dollar fall as the primary explanation?

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/06/nyt-changed-oil.html?cid=118000718#comment-118000718






http://www.ianwalthew.com/
http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/

Roger Cohen: It's the networks stupid.

Here's 'You Didn't Really Think That Was Funny Did You?' http://tumbldown.tumblr.com/post/36008628/roger-cohen-its-the-networks-stupid-international

on Roger Cohen's recent column about how the internet networks helped propel Obama to victory:

Interesting thoughts. The dilemma, bypassed by Mr. Cohen, is that while the new upper middle class elite is and the younger generation (across most income levels) are embedded within the networks he describes, there is a large body of folks who decidedly are not. That is the body keeping Hillary’s sad campaign alive, the body that is likely to find greater appeal in McCain’s words than those of Obama.


www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

This was such a nice logo (and the comments of drunken expats).

Kris Dale pooting at http://www.robbmontgomery.com/home/2008/newspaper/design/05/international-herald-tribune-drops-logo-from-nameplate/?rcommentid=24845&rerror=incorrect-captcha-sol&rchash=932a2460ab6263f55b34457a2ae891b1#commentform

wrote
Jun 4th, 2008 at 8:39 pm
This was such a nice logo. My friend showed it to me a few months ago and raved about it’s exquisite detail and symbolism.

All true, but it had its time, and that time is over.

Others, including, literally, 'drunken expats' are very unhappy indeed. Witness this:

Letter To The International Herald Tribune

Mr. Oreskes,

As a long time reader of the International Herald Tribune, I want to voice my strong complaints about the changes you have made to your newspaper over the past few days.

I have lived in France for eight years and during that time, picking up a copy of the IHT and reading it in a cafe has been one of the highlights of my day. While some would say it would be easier to simply get my news online – for free – I'm old fashioned enough to be willing to pay 2.5 euros for your publication.I always felt it was worth it – until yesterday.

The changes you've made to the comics section are inexcusable. I'm only 39 years old, but you have made the comics so small I had to put on my glasses to be able to read them. Plus, you have removed some of the most comforting strips – like Beetle Bailey – simply to be able to run a daily Sudoku puzzle.
I understand that Sudoku is popular – but to be honest, if that's what I was looking for I can buy a book of 100 Sudoku puzzles for two euros at the train station.
The new editorial pages also are disappointing. If there is one feature that has always made the IHT stand out, it has been the quality and caliber of your Editorial and Op-Ed page. To see the amount of space reduced in favor of a large advertisement is deeply disappointing.
As to the new logo: Sorry, but I don't want to be reading “The International Edition of The New York Times.”
If all I wanted was to read The New York Times I'd either read it online, or have my family buy and mail me copies of it. (In fact, it would probably end up being cheaper for my family to buy and send me 30 days’ worth of the Times once a month than it is to purchase the IHT everyday.)
One of the bright spots of the IHT over the years has been the sense of its independent editorial slant. That's why when I'm in the United States, I purchase the IHT instead of the Times when I can find it.
I hope you do not take my complaints lightly. I come from a newspaper family. My mother has been a newspaper executive her entire life and I was journalist for Gannett for 10 years before I moved to France.
It would take a lot for me to no longer purchase the only American-produced printed news source in France – but that is a choice I am seriously considering.
Thank you for your time,
Bart Calendar
http://bart-calendar.livejournal.com/937884.html

Much of it makes a lot of sense. I for one resent the time my wife is spending with the bloody Sudoko thingie, time we used to spend chatting. (Sudoko has never entered our home before.)

I am 42, and I can't read the comics either. Lord knows what the troiseme age are doing - getting out a magnifying glass I would think.

It's a pitty really, that Bart's letter wasn't published in the IHT. I was a way a bit during April and May so maybe I missed some published reader reaction. Do let me know if there was some.




http://www.ianwalthew.com/
http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/

Amazon, Kindle and the IHT

We've had a couple of good articles about Amazon's Kindle this past week, including a large piece on Thursday about the unease Kindle is causing publishers (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/05/technology/ebook.4-282603.php) and then Krugman's prediction that anything that can be digitized will eventually be given away for free (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/06/opinion/edkrugman.php) , including I presume the IHT.

I've had my own set of issues with Amazon this week (as a published author) because my publisher (which is owned by Hachette Livre) is having its books blocked from being promoted on Amazon, because Hachette Livre won't cave in to Amazon's ceaseless demands for ever deeper discounts.

I've blogged on this at http://aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/2008/06/friday-6th-june-2008.html including posting the full text of an email that the CEO of Hachette Livre sent me, and my completely insane response (but if we're all going to be the Grateful Dead anyway, as Krugman predicts, earning money from 'readings', what's the worry about upsetting my publisher?).

Anyway, all that aside, this is what Amazon have to say about the IHT, and very reasonable I find it too.

The International Herald Tribune collects and distributes world news, information, entertainment and opinion of the highest journalistic integrity. Its balanced perspective addresses all areas of human interest and is trusted and enjoyed by people in all corners of the globe.
The Kindle Edition of International Herald Tribune contains most articles found in the print edition, but will not include some images and tables. Some features such as the crossword puzzle, box scores and classifieds are not currently available. Also, please note that International Herald Tribune features a combined weekend edition on Saturday, and therefore does not publish on Sundays. For your convenience, issues are automatically delivered wirelessly to your Kindle so you can read them each morning.
Order
The International Herald Tribune from Amazon for $9.99 per month
Don’t have
Amazon Kindle? You can always purchase it from here
Or if you prefer to read the Print editions instead, you can get it from here
http://kbooks.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/b000n8v468-2/#comment-109


QUESTION: IF HACHETTE LIVRE'S EXPERIENCE IS ANYTHING TO GO BY, WHERE IN THE UK THEY ESTIMATE AMAZON WILL HAVE 50% OF THE UK BOOK MARKET LOCKED UP IN THREE YEARS, FOR JUST HOW LONG WILL THE IHT BE ABLE TO HOLD THAT $9.99 PRICE - WHICH BY THE WAY, IS AN ABSOLUTE BARGAIN FOR THE READER.

I'd say we're moving towards Krugman's model. Whither the IHT/NYT?

This is what http://www.koozie.org/ says about it all:

International Herald Tribune: New Newspaper Addition for Kindle
By recently adding "
International Herald Tribune", a $9.99 Kindle newspaper subscription, Amazon bumps up their newspaper subscription offerings to 19.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm still surprised that USA Today hasn't jumped on board with the Kindle.





http://www.ianwalthew.com/
http://www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com/

Dingbat gone; Rolf very upset about The Global Edition thing,

This is how Businessweek ran the story:

New logo from IHT.com
The International Herald Tribune is dropping its ornate, 142-year-old logo for a more modern, simpler look. The detail-rich logo is being replaced by a phrase, "The Global Edition of the New York Times," highlighting that the paper is fully part of the New York Times Co. after a 2002 deal.
The "dingbat" first appeared in 1866 on the New York Tribune that later merged into the International Herald Tribune, wrote Richard Kluger in "The Paper: The Life and Death of the Herald Tribune." The logo has been altered over the years. The logo's panorama of symbolic images features pyramids and camels, an ox pulling a plow, a bridge, an hourglass, a soaring airplane and a bald eagle atop a clock showing the time of 6:12 -- for unknown reasons, Kluger wrote.


If you can't remember what it looked like you can remind yourself, if you are truly pining, at http://www.editorsweblog.org/special.php?IncludeBlogs=1&order=date&query=International+Herald+Tribune

Rolf wrote to me and said that he was a "tad surprised" about my lack of concern about the "subname, "The Global Edition of the International Herald Tribune." Non-American readers don't care about the NYTimes -- it's the International Herald Tribune, NOT the New York Times."

Rolf, I'm afraid those days are over.

It is owned by the NYT, and a global edition of the NYT does not have to mean that the IHT can't continue to have its own name and editorial identity distinct from the NYT. The dingbat is neither here nor there. What matters is how the paper is edited and the perspective of its staff.

What has been dropped is 'The World's Daily Newspaper' strapline.

Now, that was a great line, devised by an agency called Ambler Rodford (or something like) under the supervision of the IHT's current MD for Asia, Randy Weddle and then me when I became worldwide marketing director. I fired Ambler Rodford but kept the strapline.

It was the ex-FT man Richard McClean as publisher who iniated the Ambler Rodford brand campaign, the strapline being about the best part of it.

Sadly, it was an aspiration for, rather than a reflection of, the content of the newspaper at that time, and since. And all good advertising must fall out of a fundamental truth, as one Piers Warburton once remarked. (Actually remarked to me wisely so many times, I have never forgotten it.)

It never could truly be the World's Daily Newspaper for as long as it continued to prefer the information needs of Americans overseas as opposed to any other readership group. Conquering that Manhattan reflex from the NYT is an uphill battle, because when the new staff arrive off the boat in Paris, they are themselves exactly that, Americans overseas who want an American perspective.

Certainly called the paper the Global Edition of the NYT doesn't preclude the ambition of still becoming the World's Daily Newspaper, but I agree with Rolf, the signal is a little opaque at best, alarming at worst.

Perhaps it's a statement of intent that the NYT would like to be the world's daily newspaper. If it wants to do that, it needs to decide which brand name to go forward with, and furthermore, invest a very large amount of money before someone else does.

Like Mr. Murdoch who is now printing the U.S edition of the WSJ in London. For example.

Axel Krause: clarification

Back in January, I posted about ex-IHT journalist, Axel Krause.

Here's what I wrote:


International Herald Tribune "Where are they now?" : Axel Krause
This is only for old-timers but anyone remember Axel Krause, side-lined into Sponsored Sections and other vague pojects by John Vinocur back in the early 1990s if memory serves me?But Axel is still going strong, here quoted by a Libe Blog on Sarko's press management style.http://contrejournal.blogs.liberation.fr/mon_weblog/2008/01/axel-krauze-la.html
Posted by Ian at 08:11


I received an anonymous comment, fleshing out some info about what Axel is up to now (to which I posted my own comment suggesting that Anonymous might indeed be Axel himself).

Anonymous said...
Axel Krause is also contributor to TV5 MONDE's excellent weekly news magazine "Kiosque": http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/kiosque/intervenant.php?id=12

Subsequently it has been brought to my attention, what the exact role of Axel Krause at the IHT was, and what he is now up to. In fact, from an email from Axel, so I am happy to clarify matters further.

Here's what Axel wrote:

+ In 1987, as Bob McCabe, the paper's first corporate editor, returned to the news operation, I, as you recall then economics correspondent, became his successor with the support of not only John Vinocur but the publisher, Lee Huebner. As John's announcement to the staff described the move, "Axel Krause goes on loan from the editorial department to the publisher's office as corporate editor."

+ Maintaining my journalist's status, and with the support of Lee and others on the staff, I proposed and helped launch and editorially supervised the IHT series, sponsored by a group of multinationals, "1992- The World's Rendezvous With Europe." The series, which ran from 1988 to 1992, drew wide praise for its editorial quality, and brought in, according to Lee, some $1 million the paper would not otherwise have generated.

+ Meantime, I worked closely with the conference department in London, helping develop themes, find speakers and regularly moderating the conferences around the world, occasionally filing news stories when no correspodent was available. And perhaps, when you cite "other vague projects," you may be referring to the IHT's plans for launching a weekly television news program for the US, with the NYT and the Washington Post and PBS; the plans for the project in which I, among others were actively involved, were advanced, anything but vague, and dropped only when the Times expressed reservations.

+ In short, it was an exciting, productive assignment.

+ Finally in response to your question about posting, this is my first written response to your web which I enjoy reading. And, PS, my role as a regular contributor to TV5's "Kiosque" program is only one of my current activities - I remain secretary general of the Anglo-American Press Association since 1992; I remain a contributing editor of Transatlantic Magazine in Washington and board member of the French Economic and Financial Writers Assn, going back many years, and have other activities you can find via Google or Who's Who in France; nothing anonymous about any of them!

Now, if I were a proper journalist I would fact check all this and verify from independent sources, but I'm not, this site is not the IHT and I am happy to take Axel at his word. This type of biography is, I know, the sort of thing that can find its way on to Wikipedia, and get people upset, but again, nor is this blog Wikipedia.

Axel's biography is now out there in the ether for all to find.

My apologies for my previous vagueness and any suggestion of 'side-line-lyness'.

In Our Pages 100, 75, and 50 years ago.

It was Eugene O'Neil who wrote that there is no such thing as the present or the future, only the past endlessly repeating itself.

Which is why In our Pages 50,75 & 100 Years Ago is a must read for me: mostly prescient and topical, sometimes off-beat and amusing.

It's also been identified in reader research as one of the most popular and well-read sections of the International Herald Tribune.

But I can't find it on http://www.iht.com/ which is a shame.

Michael? Why not?



www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com

What's up with NYT Magazine articles?

Because of my blog, www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com I use www.iht.com a lot.

I am increasingly frustrated by not being able to find articles from the 4 star early European edition on the iht.com site.

Example: an excellent article by Somini Sengupta on gated communities in Gurgaon, India, built next to slums. Published Saturday June 7 2008, I can't find it this morning, Sunday June 8 on either iht.com or nytimes.com

On my blog I wanted to publish extracts from this article, along with two others that appeared in the same print edition of the IHT: one about architecture and design for refugeee camps (by author Jim Lewis from the NYT Magazine and flagged in-paper as such), another on the promise and challenges of building new megacites. These three articles, scattered through the paper, are just the sort I try to pull together for the readers of www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogspot.com


It's clear there is some still some real value in having a print subscription to either the IHT or the NYT. I'm wondering if these articles are coming from the weekend NYT and not indexed for search until the following week?

Any explanations?

www.ianwalthew.com
www.aplaceintheauvergne.blogsot.com