Thursday, 26 June 2008

Off to Paris

I'm off to Paris for a few days; a (my) book party at The Abbey Bookshop on Saturday night (28th June) at 7.30pm (29, rue de la Parchminerie 75005 Paris) - please come along if you're in Paris or come to a reading I am doing at Shakespeare and Co on Monday, 30th June at 7.00pm. (37, Rue Bûcherie 75005 Paris).

I think Brian's party at The Abbey Bookshop will be more fun, more free booze, lots of free food from the Auvergne which I bought at the market this morning, and ideally situated for those of you who would like to also catch up on the Gay Pride March that swings by the left bank (if my Chilean drag queen friend Mario is correct) a little before the party at Brian's wonderful bookshop.

If you work for the IHT and would like to come, you can discretely slip me pieces of paper with fun stories from the IHT whilst you buy my book.

Even better if you're an IHT reader - I'd love to meet you and hear your views.

Hope to see you there.

I'll be back and around Think! sometime from next Wednesday, all being well.

I will no doubt be bumping into a few IHT hands and hopefully will have interesting things to report, unless it's "off the record".

At worst, I hope to be able to provide some snippets from, to use classic IHT/NYT speak, "senior IHT employees speaking on the condition of strict anonymity (sic?) as their position does not allow them to speak to the press and on no account scurrilous, tongue in cheek bloggers."


Moral stress at the IHT

Whilst we're on the subject of why I left the IHT, and the endless cost-cutting (firing people) that has been a part of life at the IHT for the last 10 years or more, please forgive a shameless act of self promotion as I quote this review about a book I wrote called 'A Place in My Country' (My emphasis in bold below.)

Oxford Times (5 June 2008)
Collapsing idyll, by Maggie Hartford

"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone. The story of finding the dream cottage, the impulse buy, and the last-minute panic are standard for this genre, but Walthew has some more interesting things to say. His outgoing personality - and perhaps his cosmopolitan background, and his Australian wife - allowed him to integrate into village life but keep an outsider's point of view. He gradually realised that the villagers were far from the united community of townies' dreams, and that economics was forcing drastic changes on traditional rural life. Highly recommended."

I am still waiting for Katherine Knorr to review my book (savagely) in the IHT but it seems it isn't to be. Perhaps too much moral stress.

Axel back in the news!

Think! covers all things IHT, past and present.

So, somehow, we're back to Axel Krause would you believe.

I think my initial post on Axel had it about right, but I was happy to put Axel's take on events up on this blog.

Now, I have received this 'clarification' from someone who was in the meeting when the "Axel moves to Special Projects" discussion came up, and this is what he has to say:

"With all due respect to Axel, I was in the meeting when Vinocur loaned Axel to Huebner...the fix was in, Vinocur wanted Axel off his budget so that he could install other journalists and the 'loan' coincided with Axel's desire to seriously pursue the 1992 unification story, Huebner picked up Axel's costs and the advertising department working with Axel cranked out the profitable 1992 series."

If the person who told me this would like their name attributed to this interesting insight, please let me know, but for now you remain A.Non.

(How many people were there at this meeting? Mr. Vinocur, can you pitch in here?)

I very much like history, including IHT history and this sort of anal detailia is sadly right up my street.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusions....

For all of you who haven't the first clue who Axel Krause is, my apologies, but clearly it remains a subject of some interest to those involved at the time, which must be about 18 years ago! Surely there must be a paper trail that could clarify all this?

(I have always wondered if there is a file of publisher's memos, or ones sent to him. They would be invaluable to the person who writes the next history of the the IHT which I would hope would be Walter Wells. One memo I know isn't in any file is one of mine, to Peter Goldmark Jnr, objecting strenuously to his decision to cut the pagination from 20 to 18 pages in an effort to save money and please his masters in NY - who showed very little appreciation for this pointless and damaging effort. Goldmark called me to his office, had me sit down in front of him and his COO Richard Wooldridge, and then calmly picked up my memo from his desk, ripped it to pieces in front of me and threw it in the bin, announcing the subject was closed and our meeting over. I think then I knew it was time to leave.)

New York Times to Launch IHT Chinese edition in NY

In a shock announcement, the plans are revealed for the future of the IHT.

It is to be turned into a Chinese language publication, and in keeping with its long tradition of serving travellers and expats, it will be printed and distributed in NY in Chinese.

Well, perhaps.

New York sees big potential in a new wave of Chinese tourists
New York looks a lot like Shanghai," said Fu Jiang Li, 47, as he studied the bronze peace sculpture with its knotted gun barrel on United Nations Plaza. He should know, because that's where he's from. "But China has only one Shanghai — and America has so many big, modern cities."
Li, an air-conditioning engineer, was here on business, but he was having a look around, too — and that put him at the leading edge of a growing wave of prosperous Asian tourists who may soon enough be posing before New York City's trophy monuments, trooping in and out of buses and megapixeling everything in sight.
While once Japanese tourists were ubiquitous in New York City, the oncoming wave of visitors is from mainland China. City officials, hospitality merchants and culture executives see them quite simply as the golden future: a rare growth sector in a cooling economy.
Last year Chinese travelers spent $2,204 per visit in New York City, in contrast to $1,807 for some 283,000 visitors from Japan, according to NYC & Company, the city's tourism and marketing bureau. Though the number of visitors from Japan dwarfs the 160,000 visitors from China, a new agreement between China and the United States has, as of last Tuesday, permitted travel agencies for the first time to offer packaged tours to New York and other American cities, tourism officials say. Since previously only business and government travelers were approved, the accord is likely to significantly increase the flow of visitors.
"All the Chinese want to come here," said Charlie Shao, president of Galaxy Tours, which brought in 1,082 business tour groups with more than 10,000 Chinese last year. "We think it will be a very big market and the airlines will need to fly very big jets."

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Downie's departure, minute by minute.

6:25: Looks like Weymouth thinks she erred. She sent out the following note to staffers after we noted her error below:
Sorry for the typo in the last version -- Len has been here for 44 years, not 24.
Says one Postie in reaction: "See, this is what happens when you buy out all those copy editors."
Joel Achenbach toasts Downie.
5:01: One Postie reporter tells us that Len gave a recap of his career, then Katharine spoke, then
Don Graham. "Longest applause I have ever heard in a newsroom," says our source. Downie said: "I love all of you, and I love this newspaper."
Erik Wemple chats with Downie.
4:54: You might notice the big error in Katharine Weymouth's memo to staffers: Downie's has been with the Post for 44 years, not 24.
4:45: We've obtained Katharine Weymouth's staff memo on Downie's resignation. Full memo after the jump (way down below). A sample: "Len is incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time. He has guided The Washington Post with a steady and unerring hand, and we have been fortunate to have him for the past 24 years -- 17 as Executive Editor."
4:44: In newsroom meeting,
Katharine Weymouth calls Downie "Weymouth "incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time."
puts out an article. "Downie will become a Post Co. vice president at large, a title also held by his predecessor as editor, Ben Bradlee. ... . Those considered to be the strongest contenders for the job are Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett; former Wall Street Journal managing editor Marcus Brauchli, who was ousted in April after Rupert Murdoch took over the paper; and Jonathan Landman, a New York Times deputy managing editor who has run the paper's Metro staff and Week in Review section."4:38: Downie will retire Sept 8. and move upstairs in the Washington Post building to write books and guide changes at the company. "A new young publisher needs a new young executive editor," he said.
Len Downie is stepping down. He started as an intern on June 22, 1964.
4:29: Bob Woodward is there.
4:20: One Postie writes from the meeting: "This looks major major"
2:40: From a tipster:
Downie will tell staff that he is retiring. Worst-kept secret in Washington.
2:32: One Postie says that
Len Downie may announce his retirement at this meeting. Not a chance a successor will be named at the same meeting, which would deny Downie his day-long glory.
2:12: Well, that's what's happening at least.
From one tipster:
WaPo staff meeting today at 4 pm in the downtown newsroom.
And another:
Downie's announced a 4:30 meeting today of unknown subject.
(Although apparently
it's news to Marcus Brauchli)

Len Downie has announced that, effective Monday, September 8, 2008, he will step down from his post as Executive Editor.
Len is incontrovertibly one of the great editors of our time. He has guided The Washington Post with a steady and unerring hand, and we have been fortunate to have him for the past 24 years -- 17 as Executive Editor.
Under his leadership, the quality of our coverage and our newspaper grew every year. was born and, thanks to content provided by our newsroom, the site has brought us new readers from around the nation and the world. We have more readers for Washington Post content today than ever. While prizes are just one of many measures of success, during Len's tenure, The Washington Post was awarded a total of 25 Pulitzer Prizes, many White House News Press Photographers Association Awards and other prestigious awards. With Len's sound instincts and nose for talent, our newsroom if filled with an array of remarkably talented journalists who have broken important stories, from neglected children in DC's child welfare system to Walter Reed.
Len, 66, joined The Post as a summer intern in 1964 when he was 22. He became a well-known local investigative reporter in Washington, specializing in crime, courts, housing and urban affairs. At the age of 24, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series uncovering the deplorable conditions of what was then the D.C. Court of General Sessions. Other work he did as a reporter won him two Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Front Page awards, The American Bar Association Gavel Award for legal reporting and the John Hancock Award for excellent business and financial writing.
He worked on The Post's Metro staff as a reporter and editor for 15 years and was Assistant Managing Editor for Metro news from 1974 until 1979. As Deputy Metro Editor, Len supervised The Post's Watergate coverage. He was named London correspondent in 1979 and returned to Washington in 1982 as National Editor. He became Managing Editor of newspaper in 1984 and was named Executive Editor in 1991 – almost exactly 17 years ago.
Len is the author of four books: Justice Denied (1971); Mortgage on America (1974); The New Muckrakers (1976), a study of investigative reporting; and (with Robert G. Kaiser) The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril (2002). He was also a major contributor to Ten Blocks from the WhiteHouse: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968, a Washington Post book. In 2003, The News About the News won the Goldsmith Award from the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Len will assume the role of a Vice President At Large at the newspaper andwill remain at The Washington Post as a trusted friend and advisor. Len'sfirst novel, The Rules of the Game, will be published by Knopf next January.


There's something quite interesting about big moments in big American newspapers, and it's an overwhelming sense that something TERRIBLY important TO THE ENTIRE WORLD has taken place, like the President of the United States of America being assasinated, or Bob Dylan dieing.

People say things like: "I love all of you and I love this newspaper."

Acceptance, not dominance, for Google News

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: The death of Tim Russert of NBC News this month quickly became a top story on the biggest U.S. news sites.
The front page of Google News took about an hour to catch up.
Google blamed a technical problem for the delay and said it was not a sign that its news site, whose content is compiled entirely by computer programs, lacks timeliness.
Still, while news organizations worry about what Google is doing to their business, the company is far from achieving the kind of dominant position in news that it has in other areas. Six years after its start, Google News appears to be stuck in neutral and struggling to keep up with rivals.
Several online media experts say Google has done little to change the site in recent years, especially when compared with its other products like Google Maps or Gmail, which get new features at a rapid pace.

Business Problem

Here's one:

The Post is struggling with declining circulation and ad revenue, even as it draws record numbers of readers online. The Post's weekday circulation, which was over 800,000 early in this decade, averaged 673,000 in the six months ended March 31, the seventh-highest in the country. It has more than nine million Internet readers each month, according to Nielsen online, behind The New York Times and USA Today. Like the rest of the industry, it has found it hard to turn its digital audience into significant revenue.

OK. So your flagship product is in free-fall, but your online product is growing strongly in terms of readers (of course it is - it's free, it's online, what did you expect) but you can't get any decent revenue out of them.

What advertisers are prepared to pay for online readers just doesn't stack up, readers won't pay for online content, certainly not general interest (IT'S FREE BABY) and all these newsites are being paid for by declining (but still respectable) margins on declining, aging print readership.

The solution therefore is to meld, mesh, weave, merge, intergrate, leverage, what the ever, your sinking flagship operation with a new one that isn't making any money.

And all will be well.

Explain, please.

This is what goes for newspaper strategy in 2008.

The idea of re-visiting the fundamental business model of the newspaper (printing 24 hour old or more news, on paper) hasn't changed in hundreds of years, and nobody seems to want to discuss this.

Curious. If we want to talk about legacy problems, I'd say this industry has a few.

I remember Len

Washington Post editor to step aside
Leonard Downie Jr. will step down after 17 years as the top editor of The Washington Post, he told his newsroom staff on Monday, making way for a generational transition under a new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, at a time of financial and technological strain for newspapers.
A successor was not named, but Weymouth will appoint a new executive editor in a few weeks, according to Post officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Downie, 66, will leave The Post newsroom on Sept. 8, after more than four decades, to become a vice president of the Washington Post Company.
"A new, young publisher needs a new, younger editor," Downie told a gathering of a few hundred people in The Post's main newsroom, flanked by many of his top lieutenants, by Weymouth, and by her uncle, Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of the company and a former Post publisher. Downie concluded by telling his assembled troops, "I love you all very much," and then telling them to get back to work.
A calm, unassuming leader in an often frenetic business known for outsize egos, Downie has led The Post's newsroom through an especially strong period, as the paper became one of the best and most important in the country and won a trove of awards, including 27 Pulitzer Prizes. This year, it won six Pulitzers for its work in 2007, the most it has ever captured in a single year.
Downie oversaw a period of expansion — especially in The Post's local and suburban news coverage — followed by one of contraction. In recent years, he has presided over cutbacks reducing the news staff by more than one-quarter, to about 700 people, including significant reductions in its overseas staff. Last month, more than 100 newsroom employees accepted a buyout offer, including some well-known reporters.

Like all major newspapers, The Post is struggling with declining circulation and ad revenue, even as it draws record numbers of readers online. The Post's weekday circulation, which was over 800,000 early in this decade, averaged 673,000 in the six months ended March 31, the seventh-highest in the country. It has more than nine million Internet readers each month, according to Nielsen online, behind The New York Times and USA Today. Like the rest of the industry, it has found it hard to turn its digital audience into significant revenue.
The Post is trying to meld print and Internet newsrooms that have been kept separate to a degree that is unusual in the industry, fostering a sometimes less-than-friendly rivalry. Post executives say merging them is among the highest priorities for Weymouth, 42, who became the publisher in February, and also became the first publisher to have control of the Web site.
Among the leading candidates for Downie's job, according to people who have been briefed on Weymouth's thinking, are Philip Bennett, the second-ranking editor; Marcus Brauchli, who was recently ousted as the top editor of The Wall Street Journal; Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor of The New York Times, and Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek magazine, which is owned by the Post Company.
Downie's departure was widely expected, given his age and Weymouth's desire to put her own stamp on the paper, but it was still emotional.
"I'm going to miss this newsroom," he said in an interview. "But I know it's time for a generational change in the leadership of the newsroom, as there is in the publisher, to take this paper to the next place it needs to be, along with its Web site."
Downie said he was not pressured to retire. "Don and Katharine and I have been talking about what to do next since she became publisher, and we decided this was the right thing."
The Post's leadership has been extraordinarily stable. It has had just two executive editors over the last 43 years, Downie and Benjamin Bradlee. And for 75 years, the company has been led by three generations of a single family; Weymouth represents the fourth generation of the family to become publisher, and is expected one day to succeed Graham, who is 63, at the helm of the company.
Downie joined The Post in 1964 as an intern, and worked his way up through a variety of reporting an editing positions. Before becoming executive editor, he was the managing editor for seven years under Bradlee.
He has written four nonfiction books, and his first novel, "The Rules of the Game," is scheduled for publication in January.


The world's millionaires' club is growing, survey finds

If you take a run at the idea that there is a future for a newspaper catering to the very rich, which isn't a business newspaper, because, well, they have other people to trawl through the data; and if you then take the idea of luxury hotspots and a growing class of the super rich, you begin to get into interesting territory.

I put up a link to this article just to remind myself.

NEW YORK: The world's millionaires club is getting bigger - and its members decidedly richer.
The number of people around the globe with at least $1 million in assets swelled by 6 percent last year to 10.1 million, according to the 12th annual World Wealth Report released Tuesday by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini Group, a consulting firm.
That means an additional 600,000 people became millionaires or richer even as problems tied to the U.S. credit crisis spread in the second half of the year.
The combined wealth of the millionaires' club meanwhile grew 9.4 percent to $40.7 trillion. Their average wealth, which didn't include primary homes, surpassed $4 million for the first time.
The super rich - those with at least $30 million - grew by 8.8 percent in population while their accumulated wealth grew by 14.5 percent. This rarefied group controls about a third of the $40.7 trillion.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The CNN International Edition Model

I'll leave it to Think! reader OPL to handle this one:

"So what are we to expect in the future? Could a look at another major global U.S.-based news organization enlighten us?

Should we expect a set-up as akward as the long lived--but never really streamlined--relationship CNN domestic has with its international arm both online and on air?

  • Never really coordinated
  • Little recognition of global audience coming from U.S.-produced programming and web content
  • The U.S. feed always taking precedence over the international one (especially visible during live events when reporters first report to CNN domestic)
  • Most reporters deliver U.S. perspective
  • And how could I forget the misguided billing of Larry King Live as their flaship « international » talk show for over 20 years..."





Thomson Reuters braces for showdown with Bloomberg

I want to explain the implications of all this for the IHT, but it's hot, late and I can't be bothered.

Here's the piece.

Now let's read that again more closely

This time with my emphasis: in short, a newspaper can have the best web strategy in the world, but it ain't worth a bag of beans if the mother ship don't float:

"It's going a lot worse than anybody predicted, and if we have double-digit ad declines for two years, some newspapers will be in real financial jeopardy," said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark.
Even with less severe losses, he said, "You're going to see structural changes: Papers could drop a day or two per week, they could outsource printing."
He said that he expected the decline in ad sales to slow, with 2008 producing a 10 percent drop for the year, but he cautioned that, like other analysts, he had not been pessimistic enough so far.
The primary long-term threat to newspapers is the Internet's siphoning away of ad revenue, a trend that has been under way for more than a decade, but one that has picked up speed in the last year.
Advertisers have vastly more choices online than on paper, so newspaper Web sites win only a fraction of the advertising that goes digital, and it pays much less than advertising in print.
At the same time, the Internet has drawn millions of new readers to papers, and the major ones reach far more readers than ever before.

En bref: You can have 58 million visitors, you can have 158 million visitors, but if the CPM is peanuts to gold bars, who cares?

Think print, stay alive.

The World is Crap (for Newspapers)

U.S. newspapers facing worst year for ad revenue

For American newspapers, the news has swiftly gone from bad to worse. This year is taking shape as their worst on record, with a double-digit drop in advertising revenue, raising serious questions about the survival of some papers and the solvency of their parent companies.
Ad revenue, the primary source of newspaper income, began sliding two years ago, and as hiring freezes turned to buyouts and then to layoffs, the decline has only accelerated.
On top of long-term changes in the industry, the weak U.S. economy is also hurting ad sales, especially in Florida and California, where the severe contraction of the housing markets has cut deeply into real estate ads.
Overall, ad revenue fell almost 8 percent last year. This year, it is running about 12 percent below that dismal performance, and company reports issued last week suggested a 14 percent to 15 percent decline in May.
"I think the probability is very high," said Peter Appert, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, "that there will be a number of examples of individual newspapers and newspaper companies that fall into a loss position. And I think it's inevitable that there will be closures in this industry, and maybe bankruptcies."

Analysts and newspaper executives find themselves revising their forecasts downward every few months, unable to gain a stable footing on a sinking floor. Papers have cut costs by shedding thousands of workers, eliminating some distribution routes and printing fewer, smaller pages, but profit margins continue to shrink.
Since autumn, when Media General, the owner of a major newspaper chain in the southern United States, set its 2008 budget, "We have pulled our thinking down twice with respect to revenue," said Marshall Morton, the chief executive.
Over the next few years, he predicted, "There's got to be some assimilation," with some major U.S. newspapers going out of business or merging. At the corporate level, he said, "I would guess that rather than bankruptcies, you'd see combinations."
Analysts have issued warnings about several companies' abilities to meet their debt obligations, although the companies insist that they are at no risk of default.
Most of those companies are privately held, like Tribune Co., owner of The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and many other papers; MediaNews Group, whose papers include The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News; and Philadelphia Media Holdings, which publishes The Inquirer and The Daily News in that city.
Some analysts also see a lesser risk in a major publicly traded chain, McClatchy, owner of The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee and others, which said last week that its ad revenue was down 15.4 percent through the first five months of the year.
The company announced plans to eliminate about 1,400 jobs, leaving it with 21 percent fewer employees than it had a year and a half ago.
Some other newspaper chains have already made comparable cuts.
"It's going a lot worse than anybody predicted, and if we have double-digit ad declines for two years, some newspapers will be in real financial jeopardy," said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark.
Even with less severe losses, he said, "You're going to see structural changes: Papers could drop a day or two per week, they could outsource printing."
He said that he expected the decline in ad sales to slow, with 2008 producing a 10 percent drop for the year, but he cautioned that, like other analysts, he had not been pessimistic enough so far.
The primary long-term threat to newspapers is the Internet's siphoning away of ad revenue, a trend that has been under way for more than a decade, but one that has picked up speed in the last year.
Advertisers have vastly more choices online than on paper, so newspaper Web sites win only a fraction of the advertising that goes digital, and it pays much less than advertising in print.
At the same time, the Internet has drawn millions of new readers to papers, and the major ones reach far more readers than ever before.

The World According to the WSJ

Interesting to compare the Keller/SDJ email (shall we just say Keller) with the Robert Thomson one, just 5 days ago. Any prizes for first-mover advantage?

(BTW: I have been suggesting for some time on this blog that the IHT get its act together in the UK. Looks like it's too late on that one.)

From: Thomson, Robert
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:55 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Subject: Editorial leadership
Dear All,
I am pleased to announce significant changes to the editorial leadership of The Wall Street Journal, changes which will expedite decision-making and give increased authority and responsibility to reporters and bureau chiefs. These changes will take place in tandem with the creation of a central news desk that will allow significantly enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists, in New York and around the world.
At the heart of our new structure will be a National, International and Enterprise Team, a triumvirate which will report directly to me and to whom the bureau chiefs will report. Effective July 7, Matt Murray will become National Editor, overseeing American general and corporate news, and Nikhil Deogun will become International Editor and directly oversee our global network of bureaus and correspondents. Mike Williams will preside over a broadened Page One, being responsible for investigative reporting, as well A-heds and leders. The troika, who will become Deputy Managing Editors, will sit close together in what could prosaically be called a "news hub", thus streamlining commissioning and editing decisions, and giving them a central role in the production and presentation of copy for the paper and the website.
Mike Miller, who continues to oversee the Journal's features sections, is to be Senior Deputy Managing Editor and will be responsible for editing the paper if I am otherwise engaged. Cathy Panagoulias becomes a Deputy Managing Editor and will take a greater role in providing administrative support for bureau chiefs and in hiring decisions. Jim Pensiero is to be Deputy Managing Editor for operations, and is masterminding our move to Midtown and the introduction of a new publishing system. Alix Freedman will have expanded authority as a defender of the paper's ethical and journalistic standards. Alan Murray will remain as Executive Editor of the Journal Online, which will have a more influential role at the heart of the reformed news structure, and becomes a Deputy Managing Editor.
Deputy Managing Editor Dan Hertzberg will take responsibility for the European and Asian editions, and will have the task of building our editorial presence and profile in Europe and, in particular, in the U.K. Reg Chua becomes Senior Assistant Managing Editor, and will oversee the Design Team — a new Director of Design will be appointed in coming days — and the development of data resources.
Most news organizations in the U.S. and around the world are in retreat, but Dow Jones is expanding its reporting resources, rapidly developing its digital content and providing journalism of the highest integrity to an ever larger audience in The Wall Street Journal.

The World According to Keller and SDJ

First of all, here's 'Stephen and Bill's memo, in full.

Newsroom Leadership
Since 2003, when the NYT took full ownership of the IHT we have made considerable progress in harmonizing both the business and news sides of our operations. This has helped us make significant improvements to the quality of the newspaper which, in turn, has been reflected by an equally significant improvement in our financial performance. Today we are announcing a new newsroom management structure, along with plans for a redesign of the IHT and a proposal to combine the IHT and NYT websites.
To begin with, it's worth reiterating that we have a clear and shared editorial mission:
The IHT should become the international print edition of the NYT, whether it is formally branded that way or not. As such the IHT should become an organic part of the NYT, closely integrated in the shared purpose of gathering and disseminating NYT-quality journalism -- which means, above all, reporting and analysis that is available nowhere else.
The IHT should and must continue to be tailored to its loyal audience in Europe and Asia with an international voice and a keen awareness of its markets.
The IHT's newsroom in Paris and HK will continue to be responsible for producing international editions of high quality, but they will also expand responsibilities to share in the larger journalistic enterprise -- collaborating with New York on stories that also run on all of the NYT print and digital platforms.
The new editorial management structure we are putting in place will allow us to fulfil this mission. It is as follows:
Editor, Global Edition : We are creating a new post with the major newsroom responsibility to ensure both that the paper's international mission is fulfilled and that the newsroom becomes an integral part of the NYT's 24 hour news operation.
In an initial phase, roughly until the end of 2008, Marty Gottlieb will move to Paris to assume this position. Marty has been playing a vital role in further cementing integration over the past few months. This recent experience with the IHT together with his immense experience at the NYT, where he last headed the newsroom on weekends as associate managing editor, make Marty a terrific choice to steer us through this interim period. His move assures we will have continuity during the period when we expect to make our integration plan a fully functioning reality.
When Marty returns to New York at the end of the year, he will continue to play a role in the integrated IHT/NYT operation. He will be replaced as editor, global editions, by an editor we will be naming shortly.The editor, global edition will report to the executive editor of the New York Times and the publisher of the International Herald Tribune.
Managing Editor: In keeping with our expanded mission, Alison Smale will also become European editor of the global newsroom, coordinating the work of all NYT and IHT reporters in the region from the IHT newsroom in Paris. This mission will allow Alison to devote a great bulk of her time to providing greater direction and editing to the talented group of IHT reporters as well as Times correspondents. This is a big step forward, a clear expression of the importance of the IHT to the global news report. Alison's appointment is critical to making sure we consistently produce quality enterprise journalism that will distinguish us on the Web, in the NYT and in its Global Edition, the IHT.
Deputy Managing Editor: The Asian newsroom has made huge strides under the leadership of Len Apcar winning more readers and more journalistic awards than ever before. In close cooperation with The Times's foreign desk, it has been the recent poster child for effective news integration through the superb coverage of the Myanmar crisis that has been running on all of our news platforms. Asia is almost certainly going to increase in importance to the IHT and the NYT in terms of news and circulation growth. We have ambitious plans to expand in the region, particularly in India. Len with his experience at the NYT and his very impressive track record in Asia will continue to lead the newsroom in the region and seek to build upon the strong foundations he has already established.
Newsroom Organization: Alan Flippen and Ursula Liu . To provide new focus to the management of the newsroom Alan Flippen, a senior editor at the NYT, will join the team for 6 months starting in July as Editor, Newsroom Organization. He will work very closely with Ursula Liu in analyzing the newsroom work flow, scheduling, resource management and budgeting.
As senior editor for planning and processes since 2006, Alan has led or worked on a variety of projects to help editors more efficiently handle their administrative and operational responsibilities, from reshaping copy flow and administrative integration of the print and digital newsrooms to the introduction of electronic payroll and freelance management systems. Alan started at The Times as a copy editor in 1996, and has worked in various roles on the business side and in the newsroom. Before joining The Times he was a reporter and editor at The Associated Press for ten years.
Ursula will manage newsroom resources, projects, HR issues, and links between departments as General Manager, Newsroom. She will work closely with the Editor on communications. At the IHT since 1998, Ursula has worked as news editor, layout chief and Page 1 editor. She has led a publishing system upgrade for news and re-organized support into specialized web, research and photo teams. Previously, she was a reporter at Asiaweek and a metro editor at the Baltimore Sun. Ursula is completing an MBA at HEC.
Features/Weekend: The responsibilities of Katherine Knorr, who has made such a valuable contribution to the IHT for many years, will expand to include the development and supervision of a refreshed cultural and lifestyle package in our weekend paper, especially through closer links with the NYT. Katherine retains the title of AME, but adds to it that of weekend editor in recognition of our ambitions for the Sat-Sun editions.
Editor, Digital News: Vicki Shannon has served the paper with great distinction and verve as technology editor (and indeed technology writer!) in recent years. In her new role as editor, digital news, she will be responsible for working with the NYT in forging closer digital integration and also for overseeing content that gets the right international perspective on the Web as the NYT Co pursues its global strategy.
Roger Cohen will play a more formal role as a fulcrum for journalistic ideas and we will also seek to increase his role for the paper on external public platforms. Roger will of course continue to write his Opinion page column for the IHT and the
These are the finishing touches on a restructuring that has been underway for some months. As you know Tom Redburn is assuming his role as AME for Business, and in parallel with Alison he will be directing all European business coverage for both papers. Richard Berry has taken hold of the role of editor, continuous news here in Paris, working with Alan Cowell. Already they have brought their vast experience and journalistic skills to stories as varied as the world's reaction to Barack Obama getting the nomination to the outrage over Mugabe's invitation to a Rome food summit. As we have said before, we also hope to institute a Hong Kong outpost of the continuous news operation shortly.
These are all key positions in the new structure. As indeed are the positions of Richard Allen who, as night news editor, has for years been the anchor of our news report, and Peter Berlin our sports editor whose daily task it is to try to reconcile the competing sports interests of our growing and varied global audience.
With this team, we renew our commitment to building the most formidable international news organization in the world.
Newspaper Redesign
Earlier this year, after lengthy exploration, we concluded that we should not pursue a format change for the IHT but look to reinvent our offering for the 21st century reader in broadsheet. This important content development and redesign project will present exciting opportunities across the company to reinvigorate the IHT's offering to customers around the world.
To kick start the redesign process editors from the IHT and NYT in collaboration with Tom Bodkin, the assistant managing editor and art director of the NYT, met earlier this month to discuss how best to freshen the paper's look, help define its personality, highlight its strongest features and international voice, and emphasize its role as the global edition of the NYT. Tom and Kelly Doe, a talented designer at The Times, are now working to develop a prototype that will emphasize the journalistic strengths of the IHT and help readers navigate our rich offerings.
We will of course keep you updated on this project as it unfolds.
Web Integration
The global landscape for online news is highly competitive, making scale, speed and resources essential to success. Therefore we have determined that the best future online for the IHT and the NYT globally is through a joint international presence.
We are proposing that this be achieved through a new co-branded international homepage and internationally focused section fronts for business, culture, sports, luxury and travel through the merger of the Web sites and operations of the IHT and NYT.
This "international edition" on would carry both IHT and NYT branding and users could arrive at these pages directly either via the URL or via
In this scenario, the vast digital expertise and resources of our New York operation would work in close collaboration with IHT and NYT editors around the world to provide more interactivity and faster news to the Web while maintaining the news judgement and international voice of the IHT. This would better serve our existing international readers and expose the IHT's journalism to millions more users around the world.
Such a co-branded approach would also ensure that the IHT has an online "home" that does not compete for advertising with but instead leverages its greater audience reach and more sophisticated technology. We believe that together we can be a more competitive force in the global marketplace than, for all its strengths, can be on its own.
We have now embarked on a process of consultation with the workers committee to review this project and the implications for the IHT business and its employees. We would hope to update you on progress within the next few weeks.
Bill and Stephen.

This is clearly powerful stuff: here's how one reader of Think! reacted to this memo:

"Coherent after all.

Refreshing and overall reassuring to finally get clear insight into the state of things and the direction our paper is taking. Thanks for posting this Ian."

So all good then.

O.K, I've been told off now.

ONE last comment from my email inbox about the web plans and that's it for today.

I have been formally reprimanded:

"Acting on poor intelligence is very GW Bush has so artfuly demonstrated. Unfortunately your blog spouts forth without having any real knowledge of the significant amount of work and analysis (intelligence) that has gone on and continues to go on in order to shape a decision that will provide us with a web site that has an international focus, look and feel but that also has the depth, technological strength and resources of the worlds largest and most profitable newspaper web site. A blog , by nature I guess, tends to operate on half truths and ramble away. It's why I don't tend to read them."

Now if Doreen had just dug a little deeper and managed to get that quote into her article then she would have been cooking!

And proof positive of course, of exactly why you should read blogs.

Just for the record, I should remind Think readers that
(a) I said Enough: let's wait and see what happens and
(b) I am brand agnostic as long as the web and the paper continue to have, to quote the above mentioned NYT staffer exactly what she/he says it will have: an international focus, look and feel.

The jury is out, but so far, so good.

Can't wait to hear about the significant amount of American intelligence work that has been, and is being, carried out. Anyone involved at the IHT? If so, do drop me a line.

You read it here first.

A few earlier thoughts on the inevitable demise of back on June 10th I think.

A word from OPL

Your points on were spot on ( Someone at the IHT is definitely reading this blog ;)

Thanks for that OPL, but in fairness, I did actually know this was coming but was sworn to secrecy by my source, which naturally I respected. What I need to get better at is persuading my sources to let me run with their deep background briefings, but I'm not trying to hurt the IHT and I do know the complications of French labour law when it comes to laying off people.

More employee reaction

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Reaction re. Web: General Vibe

What seems striking judging from some of the emails I have received (and this reminds me of days of old, not just the current regime) is a prevailing atmosphere of secrecy and turf-wars surrounding nothing more than the free flow of information over simple business activities.

There are people who (rightly) seem to buy into SDJ's claims to fight Rupert's expanding empire, but the amount of decision making made either by an elite few in NY or Paris, and not by a wider IHT group, has surprised myself and others.

No one doubts that the IHT is going to go the route I blogged about around May 10th, of the BBC or CNN domestic/international models, but what is not known, or at least not shared with staff, is what affect this will have on online readership.

(I heard that was rumoured to have posted its best traffic numbers ever in May, and consistently posts month-to-month gains, so you tell me?)

Here are the questions people are batting around, not all of which I agree with, or find that relevant:

Is it just Manhattanitis that wants the NYT want to put their stamp on everything - if it's not making us any or much money we might at least as well have the benefit of the brand exposure?

Is NYTimes just too, well, New York, and that will turn off both international readers and advertisers? (As a reader that's what my wife thinks - she regards as virtually unreadable from a design point of view.)

Who really gives a damn if my wife stops visiting and doesn't go to They're aren't enough people like her to outweigh the cost-saving and brand advantages of running the show out of New York.

There is real fear that all jobs in Paris are on the block. (And they can't be cheap.) But that's not what the real fear is. The bigger fear are the newsprint jobs if going goodbye is a taste of things to come.

How will the web strategy play out? No one seems to know: some (few) people claim to hold access to stragegy and intelligence about this but that isn't being shared (yet) with all senior IHT staffers. In short, what's up Doc?

I think that about captures the general tone of what I am hearing. More later.

NYT and IHT study Web merger

I don't want to be overly critical of any IHT journalist, but Doreen Carvajal has done an absolutely stand up job here of churnalism (see full article below): that is to say, rewriting corporate press releases and/or spouting the official line, with the sole exception of saying that "Dunbar-Johnson and Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, cast the merger as a proposal at this stage, until the Paris-based IHT's works council was consulted, in accordance with French law. But discussions on a merger have been under way for months, along with work on a new design for the print version of the Herald Tribune."

What this means is that it's a done deal, this is just the spin to get by French law, and if you like the look and feel of then kiss it goobye, because it's over baby.

That there is only a 'small core of loyal readers' who use is an assertion left unchallenged by Doreen. Might she have asked how many? Might she also have reported the name of the new editor to be announced in few days?

Anyway, I can't be too critical. I knew this was coming, alluded to it in recent previous posts, didn't spell it out because my sources asked me not to. (Do bloggers really have to stick to the rules of journalism given how rude journalists are about bloggers anyway? I may have to revisit this.)

Clearly there are going to be a lot of dissappointed people at (some of whom have been long unhappy with their overall treatment by the newspaper, how kept out of the loop they have been and the general complete lack of communication between print and digital.)

How many loyal readers are going to be upset to have to look at international sections of remains unknown and frankly nobody cares (because apparently, they're aren't many of you) and no letters of complaint will be supplied to this blog by the IHT, nor printed or published on-line. So I suggest you forget writing to the IHT and write to me.

The notion that the might need a TOTAL AND COMPLETE DESIGN OVERHAUL before it is "advertised outside the United States or created sections aimed at international readers" or takes over from is obviously not touched upon at all. Ummmm.

Nor does Doreen seek to find out how exactly many of the 58 million readers of are international (OBVIOUSLY EXCLUDING AMERICANS OVERSEAS OR TRAVELLING OVERSEAS), nor does she seek to find out how many of those international readers are 'core loyal readers' as "compared with the number of [international] users arriving at the [] site through search engines and other links".

I suppose one question would be this: of the 7 million readers, how many of them are core loyal readers (who do not arrive through search engines and other links) as compared with the number of (non-American) international core loyal readers for (who do not arrive through search engines and other links).

I'd certainly like to know the answers to these questions, and have some very good research on how young Europeans and Asians find the hopelessly archaic design of before rushing to shut down

But, hey, take me out and shoot me - I used to be a planner.

I think SDJ has it right in what he says, concerning the business practicalities of all this. It did not make sense for the global edition of a newspaper to have a site called anymore than it would for CNN domestic to have an international site called - ditto, as I have blogged about, the BBC.

This is going to make advertising sales a lot easier for SOME brands, a lot harder for others (luxury, for example, who want to be associated with Suzy/Souren/IHT brand heritage).

The USA (and despite all claims to the contrary, that is, I think, what spells) for the luxury market at the moment - and let's face it, this is where most of the IHT's current advertising is coming from - is basically a peso-packing third world wasteland with the exception of a couple of west coast hot spots.

But what remains to be seen is the offering to international readers of the NYT or its global edition in terms of DESIGN and CONTENT.

And equally for the print edition, it remains to be seen whether the NYT realise that global news needs to be reported in a different way and with a different perspective to the way global news is reported for US citizens.

As to design, sadly, it is unlikely that anyone any time soon in NY is going to issue the following statement:

"Given that the future expansion of the lies outside the USA, clearly we have to re-design our website for a more design sophisticated audience in Europe and Asia. As a result, will be using the design and information hierarchy of as the base from which to build on, because it is, after all, an international site, instead of trying to turn a domestic site into an international one. Accordingly we are promoting the people in charge of to run because our people in Manhattan have yet to get to New Jersey, let alone Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris or London."

Enough: let us not judge too hastily. Let's see what happens.

P.S BTW Doreen, great article about Hachette Livre taking on Amazon, and quoting from an email from the Hachette Livre publisher to his authors. As it was me who supplied a colleague of yours with that email (as I am a Hachette Livre author), and as I have blogged about it, I was a bit put out to note that (a) you quoted someone as saying that 'authors were too afraid to speak out about the Amazon problem' whilst (b) not contacting the person who supplied you with the story, has spoken out about it and has blogged about it - me.

Here's Doreen's article below about the 'study' (could she at least not have put the word 'study' in inverted commas?)

PARIS: The New York Times Co. is developing plans to merge the Web site of the International Herald Tribune with that of The New York Times, in a bid to expand their global reach and deepen their appeal to advertisers.
In a wide-ranging announcement Monday, top executives of both newspapers said they intended to create a "co-branded international homepage" that would replace, the existing Web site of the International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Co. acquired full control of the Herald Tribune in 2003, and has been accelerating the integration of the two papers in recent months.
"We want to examine the potential to merge with," said Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, publisher of the Herald Tribune. "And the reason for that is that we believe that it will provide us with much more scale and will expose our journalism to a much larger audience. In terms of driving revenues from advertising, it will be a much more powerful proposition."
Dunbar-Johnson and Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, cast the merger as a proposal at this stage, until the Paris-based IHT's works council was consulted, in accordance with French law. But discussions on a merger have been under way for months, along with work on a new design for the print version of the Herald Tribune.
The two executives also announced a series of management changes aimed at deepening the cooperation; the Herald Tribune now describes itself on its front-page banner as "the global edition of The New York Times."

Martin Gottlieb, associate managing editor at The New York Times, was named to the newly created post of editor of the company's global editions, for an interim period of up to six months. An editor is expected to be appointed permanently to the position in the next few days, executives said.
Keller, who flew to Paris for the announcement, said the core of loyal followers of the Herald Tribune Web site was small compared with the number of users arriving at the site through search engines and other links. He also said that " is growing at a phenomenal rate."
While draws seven million visitors a month, has a global audience of 58 million, according to WebTrends, which tracks Internet traffic. Keller said a sizable portion of the audience was international, although the news organization has not advertised outside the United States or created sections aimed at international readers.
Web designers are preparing a new digital architecture for the Herald Tribune, with six to seven international sections, including business, culture, sports, luxury and travel. One possibility, executives said, is that the international edition of will carry both the Herald Tribune and New York Times brands, with readers arriving there by clicking on addresses for either or
"We need to be agile," Dunbar-Johnson said, pledging "to compete much more aggressively, nose to nose, with The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and anybody else who is competing for our readers and advertisers."
Both of those newspapers have also been re-evaluating their Web sites. Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp., which recently acquired The Wall Street Journal and its parent, Dow Jones, had considered making access to the paper's site free, but decided to keep charging users for full access.

NB All important IHT announcements often fall before, during or directly after the French Open and the beginning of Wimbledon, which is nice for any senior NYT exec who has to come to Paris to make them. The same applies to the annual board meeting.

My personal take on this was to organise a meeting of critical importance in Hong Kong every time it was Hong Kong Rugby Sevens time. Tennis for the East Coast Elites, beer and rugby for grubby Brits like me.

I'd like to personally thank the IHT and the NYT for so thoughtfully flying me accross the world, business class, indeed one time first class Cathy Pacific, to watch my favourite sport, just as I am sure that the old IHT board with the likes of Punch, Kay Graham, Lewis, Bradlee etc would like to also make their thanks to the IHT for flying them to Paris via Concorde to watch their favourite sport.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Want to understand the growth model for the IHT as luxury brand?

If you want to understand the potential growth model for the IHT as a luxury brand, you could do a lot worse than read this article by Suzy Menkes:

Weak dollar puts America outside luxury's "Golden Triangle"The Middle East, stretching via the Mediterranean coastline to Turkey and Greece, is the most buzzy area.
The result is a fractured market in which designers are being asked by one part of the world to tone down to whisper quiet luxury - and in another, to be bold and out there."It makes my job very interesting," said Robert Polet, chief executive of Gucci Group, on Sunday. "The world is contrasted - no longer as a year and a half ago, when everything was optimistic. In the Unites States, it is not business as usual. Europe is full of contrasts, with Germany quite optimistic, the U.K. doing well but Italy, more difficult. It's country by country; the Middle East roaring and Asia Pacific strong. Then there are contrasts between the different brands. It's all about segmentation."But designers agree that it is definitely not, as it used to be, all about America setting the pace as the market for luxury, even if the weak dollar is saving retailers in America's tourist regions. The Middle East, stretching via the Mediterranean coastline to Turkey and Greece, is the most buzzy area. And Stefano Gabbana is brutal about Dolce & Gabbana's perspective."The problem with America is that it is no longer in the 'Golden Triangle,"' Gabbana said, pointing out that Dolce & Gabbana has three shops in Istanbul, with further energetic growth in Beijing and across China.The figures speak for themselves. Gabriella Forte, a Dolce & Gabbana executive working in America, said that the United States now represents 14 to 15 percent of the company's retail market share, while Russia is up to 38 percent, if you count Russian travelers, who are the biggest spenders in Milan. But Forte said that comparison was difficult, as American sales have been built on wholesaling to department stores.That very system is being called into question as sales stick or slump in America and designers find their goods discounted in stores before they are marked down in their own boutiques.The current system for global expansion involves a thread of wholly owned flagship stores, bolstered by franchises. And it has led to rapid growth for many brands. For example, Salvatore Ferragamo, which was one of the first labels to spread across China, is now extending its Russian reach from Moscow through Saint Petersburg to Ekaterinburg, near the border with Kazakhstan. It is also opening three stores in India, another intriguing luxury destination.It is the same story at Bottega Veneta, part of Gucci group, where the 147 global stores include only 21 in the United States, with growth focused on the Middle East: Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, with Jeddah and Riad to come.All this is music to the ears of Sheik Majed al-Sabah, who once had to cajole designers to consider selling to his Villa Moda boutique in Kuwait and now has them begging to become part of his spreading empire. He sees a series of reasons for the changing axis away from the United States and Europe."Look at oil prices," Sabah said. "We come out of a tax-free nation, where the government is trying to help the poorer people, and where 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30. That equals a lot of surplus cash in people's pockets. Business is booming and we are still underdeveloped as an emerging market."And Sabah endorses a general view that the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China - all in different stages of development - are being challenged by the MENA, or Middle East/North Africa area.
What about growth in America? Ferragamo's chief executive, Michele Norsa, is focusing on the East Coast, opening boutiques in Westchester and White Plains outside New York City, as well as in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.But when brands are faced with a choice between America and Azerbaijan, it seems that the Unites States comes a dollar-poor second.

Interestingly, here's how a Think! reader responded to the above:

"I briefly worked for a fashion company you mentioned in one of your last posts. When the fashion shows were on, everyone seemed to be turning to the IHT to read the latest Suzy Menkes piece. But most people I worked with just picked out the fashion insert and trashed the rest. They wanted those four pages of the IHT bad enough to buy stacks of the paper at €2.5/copy for themselves as well as extra copies to give away to their fashion-buddies.

Luxury ads indeed seem to be a trend (now more than ever they abound in Le Monde, El Pais and la Repubblica—just to name a few). I don't see a problem with the luxury industry supporting print journalism if it can help guarantee the survival of the less ad-friendly parts of the paper: news, analysis, opinion, book reviews... (Certainly preferable to ads from oil companies and weapon manufacturers whose interests are often related to the stories covered in the paper).


Sunday, 22 June 2008

Here's a question: Is the new nameplate any indication the IHT plans to change format from broadsheet to tabloid or Berliner?

A Think! reader recently wrote to me with the following question:

Is the new nameplate any indication the IHT plans to change format from broadsheet to tabloid or Berliner?

I haven't got the first idea.

I do know the bottom line counts for a lot these days, and there is no doubt, that if ALL print sites could go to Berliner tomorrow, I think they probably would. However, unlike most national newspapers, the IHT has dozens of print sites, all with different kit. It took the best part of a decade to get them all lined to get away from pre-print colour, so Lord knows how long it would take to pull the Berliner trigger.

But I have got some pretty strong views on why they shouldn't and a cost benefit analysis on the back of an envelope that shows why not. All predicated on one thing though: a much better design of the broadsheet formula.

Frankly, with the current design values, I don't think tabloid or Berlin would make a great deal of difference. And it would be a lot easier to read on an airplane.

What do most traditional newspaper readers care about newspaper formats and design? Not a lot. What they want is to be able to find the same stuff on the same page every day, and for the ink to stay on the paper and not come away on their hands.

What do a new generation of NON newspaper readers care about design and the design of something as archaic as print? My guess is a great deal.

So my advice would be is that if you just want to keep your aging profile, go Berliner. You won't lose many of them because of it, provided you keep the pagination up and don't reduce the type size too much (they are getting old and are already struggling to read the comics - is it just me or have they increased their size since the recent downsize?)

However, if you think about your newspaper as your major brand statement, rather like Chanel thinks of its handbags, then I'd say how the thing looks is pretty damn important.

In Our Pages: Found it!!

I recently asked why I couldn't find In Our Pages on ( )

The answer is, not untypically, because I didn't look hard enough, as Anon was kind enough to point out.

I still think that's a pretty hard find.

And now a word from Rolf

Re your post "The Global Edition of the New York Times and the masthead...":

Wow! Thanks again for your thoroughness -- that was great. (I was derelict on finding all the comments about the global NYT and other masthead changes.)

I sure hope they keep the IHT brand, but your suspicion is probably correct.

One more thing from OPL

Regarding my post: "If only Think! were the official blog for readers ...", OPL writes:

Ian, your admirable (and unparalleled) dedication to all matters relating to our paper should naturally justify the inclusion of this blog on Perhaps a petition could help?

By all means write to moreskes AT or sdunbarjohnson AT and put this to him.

But don't hold your breath.

By the way, your reference to 'OUR' paper is exactly what this blog is all about.

I'd like to make an open invitation to both the editor and the publisher and the developer of to send any emails they receive about the paper, and their replies, to me, and I will post them here.

It's either that, or they languish in a bottom draw somewhere, although I will say that generally, in my experience, the current and previous editors of the IHT were very good at replying to correspondence sent to them about the paper. Their answers just weren't shared by them to anyone else.

So, if you do have an email you would like to put to either of the above people, send it to me too, and then when you get a reply, give it to me to post here.

But no emails please about delivery problems. It's extremely hard getting you your paper by 7.00 am all over the world, in fact it's a bloody miracle, so if it doesn't work out now and again, go buy a copy at the newstand and stop moaning.

OPL on the "IHT/NYT identity crisis."

OPL is an IHT reader who knows his IHT history, and who owns the same books I do. I am therefore grateful to him for this thoughtful retrospective on the last time the NYT went head head to head with the IHT brand. Here's what he has to say, some thoughts from me below.

Your posting ("IHT/NYT identity crisis") hit the nail on the head Ian. These inconsistencies are indeed mounting. This is a fundamental problem the New York Times Company needs to face. I couldn't agree with you more on how the branding issue is confusing but differ with you on the importance of the IHT brand and how defining it is for the papers' future. This is a (or rather another) critical time in the IHT's history--and perhaps the final phase. I personally think that killing the IHT brand (instead of giving it the same independence as say the Boston Globe) is a mistake. After having been a witness of so much history spanning three centuries, should its survival depend on the whims (and self-fullness) of its current owners?

Have we forgotten what happened the last time the New York Times had an international edition? It could be wise for NYT Company top brass to look to the past to best understand what to expect in the future. The short lived venture (a mainly rebranded NY-edition) was not a success, so the only thing the Times could do was buy a piece of the market leader, the Paris Herald. That was back in the 1960s...

"The New York Times started an edition in Europe to compete with us [the NYHT-European Edition]. It was as dull as you could get, but the Times' owners demanded half the Marshall Plan subscriptions [that were previously allocated to the NYHT-European Edition]. The USIA had to give their share, but all hell broke loose with readers. Everyone from the British parliament to the French Foreign Office was furious that their subscription had been taken away and had been substituted by the Times, which was nothing more than a replate of the New York paper." Art Buchwald, I'll Always Have Paris

"...a paper [the international edition of the NYT] that was cold, gray, with no human quality... on the day that the Herald Tribune featured a banner headline about de Gaulle's rejection of British entry to the common market, the Times headline told about New York being blacked out by a power failure." Charles L. Robertson, The International Herald Tribune--The First Hundred Years

" New York, he said [New York Times Vice President, Ivan Veit] it is assumed that anything with the name "Times" on it is better... It was disconcerting to hear from Times (NY) devotees that they like the Paris Trib as well or better." Charles L. Robertson, The International Herald Tribune--The First Hundred Years

Apply the same NYC-centric view to the IHT today and the same could happen again. The IHT was able to attract non-American readers more than the Wall Street Journal or USA Today ever could. Not worth capitalizing on?

Nonetheless it is hard for me to argue against the New York Times--a company that has been commited to newspapers as more than just a business--after all, the IHT has relied so heavily on the NYT (along with the WP) for financial support and content over the past 40 years. And yes, the Times has invested more in IHT reporters than was ever done before (probably not since World War II). But why aren't these journalists identified in the paper as IHT journalists? Why aren't IHT editorials branded as such? Readers don't have a clue what they're reading and this further signals the Times' unwillingness to preserve the Herald. The IHT was a great platform to develop a truly global paper on, the NYT is not--just like it was not in the 1960s.

New York Times editorials are usually strong supporters of diversity in society at large. Surely the strength in the diversity symbolized by the world's first ever international daily is a valuable asset?

OK OPL, let me take these points one by one.

When the NYT took over the IHT they did a lot of research and spent a lot of money to find out what all senior IHT staffers were telling them - which would have saved them about US$1 million had they had the humility to listen: the NYT brand wasn't worth a bag of beans compared with the IHT brand.

But that research, carefully guarded amongst an inner few - it's locked up like the Holy Grail - looked primarily at existing readers of the IHT. The reasoning behind this was based on the infamous national edition expansion of the NYT research.

It went like this: interview existing readers of the NYT outside Manhattan, find out who they are, then go find more people like them. It seemed to work. Thus what was good for the U.S.A. was deemed good for the research programme of a newspaper operating in over 181 countries and territories.


Either they've done more research or they simply don't care - back to Year Zero and build the NYT brand in a world of Murdoch/WSJ (the FT is a spent force for now; very possibly a NYT acquisition).

Now from a business perspective I can understand this, and until I see some solid research amongst NON IHT readers about the IHT brand, especially in the markets where newspapers are actually growing (not sinking), namely South America and Asia, I'm brand agnostic for now.

As much as you OPL, I love the heritage of the IHT. But the name isn't going to save the IHT UNLESS they can show (and I think the advertising department is doing a pretty good job of this) that the IHT brand = Upscale Luxury.

Here is the rub for IHT readers who are not HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals) - they don't want a newspaper that caters for the growing millionaire classes, talking about luxury, luxury, luxury, but the advertisers do.

Just take a look at the advertising in the paper. Take out industry related to the 'business of green' and you're left with luxury advertisers.

Now that category includes the likes of UBS private banking. They specifically DO NOT want to talk to Americans in something called the International New York Times, they want to talk to Europeans and Asians in the IHT. This was something they recently told a slack-jawed NYT ad chief, who despite being told this about 1,000 times by the IHT gang, had to hear it from the client itself. Only then did pennies begin to sink in.

(Honestly, hearing stories of the growing realisation of NYT execs about the IHT and something called 'the world' is like a story of man seeing someone making a fire for the first time. No way? Is that right? Can you do that? Let me get our strategic planning guys spend a couple of million dollars checking out this fire thing and we'll get back to you.)

So if we take a hard look, rather than a nostalgic look at the IHT brand today, it seems to represent, if anything, luxury.

Now back in the day, with most big business to business advertising going into financial press, this was a problem for the IHT. Now however, much of it has migrated to the internet (UK internet spending this year will exceed for the first time TV), so that battle isn't there to be lost. And judging by the huge number of luxury events, and adverts, the IHT seems to be doing reasonably well on luxury. Plus, demand for luxury goods are exploding accross Asia and many other parts of the world. Affluenza is a global epidemic, so why not surf the wave?

So, if you're a NYT planner, and you've finally worked out that the IHT simply cannot compete for European and Asian business people against the combination (depending on the market) of the FT and the WSJ, then why would you dump the brand that is delivering advertising that it can get - the luxury advertising through the luxury perception IHT brand. (And for those who are nostalgic, and have read the above mentioned books, the IHT was the Belle Epoque uber-luxury brand.)

And why would you think that an American general interest newspaper brand, with no track record in Europe or Asia, is suddenly going to deliver senior business decision makers in a way the IHT has consistently failed to do.

Let's be frank here: Rupert bought the WALL STREET JOURNAL because it said BUSINESS. He didn't express any interest in buying a newspaper that said to most of the (admittedly ill-informed) world: PAROCHIAL CITY NEWSPAPER.

So the IHT luxury ride is all good provided you believe:
a) the luxury brand advertising will stay when Suzy Menkes goes;
b) the luxury crowd care about being informed and being active public intellectuals.

Which would suggest to me that the IHT might be well advised to:
a) line up a plan for situation 'a' above;
b) start thinking about the brand as a luxury brand (not as a NEWS brand - as currently - poorly and pointlessly and hopelessly - presented).

It's all quite doable, especially if you consider that the luxury crowd will read whatever they are given if they think the paper in their hands is a luxury brand, and the non-luxury crowd, who don't pay much attention to adverts for multi-thousand dollar watches etc, don't care what ads are in the paper provided the content stays much the same.

However, if the travel sections, and property sections start catering to a purely luxury crowd (as seems to be increasingly the case) then you will have some existing reader dissatisfaction.

I say too bad. That's the price you're going to have to pay to continue to get solid front of the book news, analysis and opinion. The back of the book, I am afraid, has to go the way of the luxury gang in this context.

(And let's be honest, with Suzy and Souren on Art it already has - anybody bought at US$16 million painting recently? No, nor have I, but it's still quite interesting to read about people who do and why. Ditto where they go on holiday and the crappy condos they buy in over-priced golf resorts in Central America that is the new Eldorado.)

All of the above is predicated on the belief that the luxury wave will grow and grow, especially in markets where newspapers are growing (India for example) and that the IHT brand says cosmopolitan, global luxury lifestyle, and the NYT says, well, New York.

This is the very hard fact for the Manhattan Gang to grasp. In the US they are an icon of America's best reporting. Elsewhere? Well, we'd all need to read the research report to comment further on that.

Perhaps they've secretly commissioned a second one, in line with a certain tendency among West coast elites to find the facts to fit the story when it comes to international ventures. (cf. Last Attempt to Launch International NYT, cf Last Attempt to Invade Large Middle Eastern Oil Reserve, two ventures enthusiastically backed by the editorial board of the NYT.)

Now, as to "why aren't IHT journalists identified in the paper as IHT journalists and why aren't IHT editorials branded as such?"

Ironically, back when the IHT advertising department was fighting the perception that it was read largely by US expats (still largely true) people like me argued endlessly to drop the NYT identification of journalists because it didn't serve our cause. Of course the NYT refused.

Now they don't want IHT journalists identified because they are techincally correspondents of the global edition of the NYT, often on NYT contracts. How the world turns.

"Readers don't have a clue what they're reading"; that's correct. For example, OPL seems to think the IHT writes its own editorials. It doesn't. Nor does it identify which opinion pieces are coming from the NYT (the majority) and which are submitted to the IHT (not enough, and not enough non-American voices).

And of course, way too much of the paper remains wire copy.

Whether "this further signals the Times' unwillingness to preserve the Herald" I don't know.

"The IHT was a great platform to develop a truly global paper on, the NYT is not--just like it was not in the 1960s."

That I do agree with....if handled smartly. (Content, brand marketing, design.)

But for the IHT to be a truly global paper it needs to keep its independence from the NYT and employ its own journalists. Frankly, this would be the case if the NYT went with the NYT brand for its global play. Ultimately, it comes down to who writes for and edits the paper. Not what it's called.

Seriously, OPL, you refer to the paper as the Herald, the International Herald Tribune marketing gang want you to call it the IHT; IHT old timer edit staff call it the Trib, the French call it the Herald, the Germans the Tribune, the NYT gang call it any of the above; it's a complete mess.

If the trade off for a genuinely independent global newspaper, favouring no one national constituency (US college basketball, I think not) is that it's called the International NYT, so be it. I can understand the thinking, I'd like to see a little more data.

But if they think a slightly doctored NYT is going to cut it (which I CAN'T believe they do, but then I was one of the people who assumed Rumfeld had a plan for D-Day + 5) they are sorely off the mark.

And if is cut, and becomes part of then the designers at the NYT are going to have to take this on-board: despite thinking that Madison Avenue and American newspaper design is the center of world design standards, most of Europe and Asia think of the NYT design values as about 30 years out of date, crusty, grey, dull, dense and frankly wouldn't get a pass grade from any leading design school in Europe. might look just dandy to an American who has never left Illinois.

To anyone of any interest to advertisers outside the USA it looks like a dropped bottle of ink.