Saturday, 9 August 2008

Same story, different emphasis.

I've posted on this before, how Reuters tends to get to the more global perspective and the meat of the story better than the NYTs folk.

Here's an example from today, on Sadr's announcement yesterday. Compare and contrast first paras and headlines. The first one comes from the NYT. The second one from Reuters.

Quite a difference.


Sadr to split Iraq militia into 2 groups
BAGHDAD: Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, said Friday that he would divide his Mahdi army militia in two: one elite unit of fighters and a group that would work on community and religious programs. The announcement was made by Sadrist preachers in their sermons at Friday prayers in cities across Iraq. The speakers urged Shiite followers of the radical cleric to volunteer for the new social wing named the Momahidoun, meaning "those who prepare the way."
Sadr to disarm if U.S. withdraws
BAGHDAD: Anti-American Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr would dissolve his Mehdi Army militia if the United States started withdrawing troops according to a set timetable, a spokesman said.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

The Olympics

I'll fess up. Save skiing, jogging, squash, rugby, and sailing, sports leave me cold.

So all this Olympic coverage is going to annoy me, especially as it drowns out the bad things going on during the games (and the people up to bad things know this).

Plus as an excellent IHT article the other day said: any athlete you watch break a record or win a gold is very likely doped up, so really, what's the point of watching the World Chemistry Olympics.

And that's leaving aside the human rights issues, which as another very good IHT observer remarked, just happens to also be the anniversary of the junta take over in Burma, a junta heavily supported by China.

(Oh yeah, that other thing. I don't own a TV.)

Indeed it's funny what people get up to during the Olympics. A few examples, picked up by the IHT (good) but played small (bad).

Just a few examples from today.

Iraq proposes timetable for 2010 U.S. withdrawal
BAGHDAD: Iraqi negotiators have proposed a timetable for U.S. withdrawals that would see combat troops leave the country by October 2010, although Washington has not yet agreed to it, a senior Iraqi official said on Friday.If agreed, the timetable would mean the administration of President George W. Bush effectively adopting a schedule very close to that proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq."As of last night that was one of the issues being discussed between the two sides. There is no agreement yet, but this is what the Iraqis are asking for," said the official who is close to the negotiations.The schedule proposed by Iraqi negotiators would see U.S. forces withdraw from the streets of Iraqi cities by the middle of next year and combat troops return home by October 2010. Some American support units could stay on for another few years.

IW: That has be the Olympic U-Turn Gold Medal of the Day. And the NYT/IHT devote a small Reuters article.

The day before the Olympics, Israel just happened to issue a tender for the construction of 447 housing units in settlements in the Jerusalem.

The statements and commentary about this in Saturday's IHT, and the day after this play by the Israelis, are hard to find. It's got to give over big space to Friday's opening of the Olympics.

So a small wire piece on the EU's response issued Friday to the Israeli move:

Oh yes, the slow boil Russian invasion of Georgia which I have been tracking for months just happens to blow on Olympics day.

And John Edwards admits his affair:

I hope the paper isn't going to go Olympic mad, but then again, if you've got a laughable pro-Tibet, Pro-China double page colour spread advertisement coming in from Bennetton, what's a publisher to do? He needs the sports news hole for the sports advertising.

Just preparing you.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Another judgement call on news priorities.

Again, as per, the previous post, compare and contrast the amount of coverage given to these two topics published on the same day.

Balance? Allocation of reporting resources?

While the NYT's correspondent in Israel is giving herself time to a story to do with Hebrew and text messaging, where's the story on the EU (quite important, er actually) speaking out against settlements (for which they relied on a wire report.)

This post should be seen in the context of a previous post on a NYT reader survey which focused specifically on whether readers found their coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict biased or not. Surely they can just have a look at their own articles?

EU says Israel settlements undermine peace process
BRUSSELS: Israel's decision to approve the building of hundreds of new housing units in the Jerusalem area undermines the credibility of the Middle East peace process, the European Union said on Friday.
A statement from the French EU Presidency said it was deeply concerned by the Israeli move.
"This decision serves to undermine the credibility of the ongoing peace process," it said, adding that the building of such settlements was illegal under international law.
"Settlement activities prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and compromise the viability of a concerted two-state solution," the EU statement said, calling on Israel to freeze settlement activities.
Israel issued a tender for the construction of 447 housing units in settlements in the Jerusalem area on Thursday, drawing criticism from Palestinians who accused the Jewish state of sabotaging chances of peace.
A U.S.-sponsored "road map" for peace calls for Israel to freeze all settlement activity. The World Court has branded settlements as illegal.
Several similar tenders have been issued since Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched U.S.-sponsored peace talks last November.
The talks, bogged down from the start by violence and disputes over settlements, have shown little sign of progress.

Will text messaging be the death of Hebrew?
JERUSALEM: Some Israelis have described being moved almost to tears by a rare viewing of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea biblical scroll, on special exhibit this summer at the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum for the first time in 40 years.
The familiar, unfulfilled prophecy of the 2,100-year-old scroll - "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" - undoubtedly arouses emotion here. But there is also a thrill born of ordinary people being able to read, and at least partly understand, an ancient Hebrew text.
Two centuries after it was written, Jewish history became one of dispersal and exile, and Hebrew ceased to be widely spoken for the next 1,700 years.
Its revival is often hailed as one of the greatest feats of the Zionist enterprise; today, Hebrew is the first language of millions of Israelis, a loquacious and literary nation that is said to publish an average of 5,500 books a year.
But in a country where self-doubt and insecurity run deep, even a linguistic triumph can be a cause for concern. After such a meteoric comeback, some worry that the common language may already be in decline, popularized to the point where many Israelis can no longer cope with the rich complexities of traditional Hebrew prose.
"There is a feeling of anxiety," said Ruvik Rosenthal, a popular Israeli language guru and author of a best-selling dictionary of Hebrew slang.
There is the creeping foreign influence, as urban sophisticates pepper their Hebrew speech with accented English affectations like "please," "sorry" and "whatever," along with a noticeable loss of nuance and relative paucity of vocabulary in regular use.
Israelis can obsess about language. "We speak with mistakes," Rosenthal said. "Everyone does, and everyone corrects everyone else."
But he and other Hebrew watchers point to a potentially more disturbing trend: living Hebrew has moved at a fast pace, and in the process, it has become increasingly estranged from its loftier ancient form.
"We used to understand the biblical language better, and our language was closer to it," said Ronit Gadish, academic secretary of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, the state's supreme guardian of the national tongue. "Now, what can we do to keep up the continuity?"
In a country suffused with religious and historical symbolism, the linguistic link to the past has always evoked feelings of national identity, vindication and pride. Any erosion is bound to stir unease.
"The Bible," said Rosenthal, "is first of all our connection to the land."
Hebrew was never actually dead. It was more like an unborn child, said Ariel Hirschfeld, a Hebrew literature lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, slowly developing over the centuries as the language of Jewish letters and prayer. Educated Jews would read the weekly Torah portion in Hebrew, while sages from Prague to Baghdad would correspond on religious questions in their only common tongue.
But the linguistic reincarnation came with the birth of modern Zionism and was largely driven by one man, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who was born in a Lithuanian village 150 years ago and immigrated to Palestine in 1881.
The classical Scriptures provided words for concepts like justice, mercy, love and hate, but not for more mundane things like "office" or "socks." So Ben-Yehuda started inventing new words, mostly drawn from ancient biblical patterns and roots.
Authors and poets like the Nobel laureate Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Chaim Nachman Bialik and Uri Zvi Greenberg, Hebrew revivalists from Eastern Europe, also drew on the ancient sources to create texts rich in biblical allusions yet conceptually avant-garde.
"They managed to tie the ancient language with the modern world in all its depth," said Hirschfeld, who compares them in importance to James Joyce.
The Hebrew-speaking project took off rapidly in pre-state Palestine, and was adopted zealously by the Zionist pioneers. By 1914, a decision was made to teach only in Hebrew in Jewish schools, and by the time the state of Israel was founded in 1948 there was already a generation of Israelis for whom Hebrew was their native tongue.
Now the academy continues the quest for new words, trying, with partial success, to introduce authentic Hebrew equivalents for foreign terms before they stick. In the country that invented instant messaging, that can often mean a race against time. So a text message is now officially called a "misron," from "meser," the word for message. The proper Hebrew for talk-back, commonly pronounced "tokbek," is "tguvit," a diminutive of "tguva," response.
"When there was no word for tickle, nobody wrote about tickling," said Gabriel Birnbaum, a language expert at the academy. "Today, we have everything."
Birnbaum is now helping preserve the link with the past as part of a team writing entries for a historical Hebrew dictionary. The academy has been compiling material for it since 1959. Asked about a particular example of Hebrew shorthand often used in laconic online chat, Birnbaum was able with a click of his mouse to locate the earliest use of it - in a Dead Sea scroll.
Birnbaum, like most of the experts, views what is apparently the deterioration of Hebrew as a natural process, if it can be considered degeneration at all. The reality, they say, is not as bad as it sounds. Rather, the anxiety may stem less from the state of Hebrew and more from the Israeli state of mind.
"It comes from a lack of security," said Rosenthal, who was born in 1948, and explained the linguistic qualms as part of the collective summing up of the past 60 years. "The state of Israel has no confidence in its continued existence."
The language may have moved on since the days of the prophets, but perhaps the sense of doom has not.

Will text messaging be the end of Hebrew? Who gives a toss in the context of other problems confronting Israel.

How about she sit down and write an equally detailed report on whether settlements in the illegally occupied territories will be the end of any peace process?

How about doing the sort of reporting that Reuters increasingly does better and better. The NYT need to seriously lift their game or shutter their own foreign bureaus (a cost cut I've recommended) if Reuters can publish this on the same day as the above two articles, and which happily ran.


Israeli-Palestinian hatreds envenom West Bank city
By Alistair Lyon, Special CorrespondentReuters
Friday, August 8, 2008

HEBRON, West Bank: The Palestinian juice vendor cursed after an Israeli soldier stopped him from trundling his barrow into Hebron's ancient covered market.
"Twenty barrows a day pass this checkpoint, that soldier just wants to make a problem for me," 42-year-old Nabil Taha fumed, rounding on two uniformed European observers who had asked the soldier to explain his decision.
"It's forbidden," the Israeli said in Arabic. "He can carry his stuff into the souk (market), but he must leave the barrow."
The exchange occurred near the Cave of the Patriarchs, whose links to Abraham make it holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
However trivial, it illustrated the tensions seething around the 650 or so settlers living in fortified enclaves guarded by Israeli troops in the heart of this West Bank city of 180,000.
This friction often explodes into violence, making Hebron a crucible of hatred in the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The white trailer homes of one settler enclave are planted atop buildings in the Old City's warren of alleys, immediately overlooking a narrow street in the once-bustling market.
Protective steel netting spanning the street is littered with bricks, bottles and rubbish hurled down at Palestinians by settlers -- who in turn complain they are constantly harassed.
Israel rarely acts when Palestinians complain of settler violence, said Vincent Pasquier, a research officer for the European mission, known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), which has monitored Hebron since 1994.
"What is totally lacking is a determined will to act against the settlers in terms of arrest and prosecution," Pasquier said.
The Israelis have closed Hebron roads at 120 points, according the latest count by the 63-strong observer mission.
"It's a ghost town," Pasquier said, pointing down a desolate street where gold sellers once plied their trade. Now weeds grow a metre (3 feet) high between rows of shops with rusty shutters.
"Gas the Arabs," reads a slogan sprayed in English on the metal door of a home in the Old City, where 30,000 Palestinians are subject to Israeli army checkpoints, lookout posts and blocked streets that disrupt daily life, causing many to leave.
In 2007, Israel's B'Tselem human rights group said more than 1,000 Palestinian homes had been vacated and 1,829 shops closed in the roughly 20 percent of Hebron under full Israeli control.
The rest of Hebron is formally under Palestinian Authority rule, like other West Bank cities. But Israeli forces stormed into this zone while crushing an uprising after peace talks collapsed in 2000. They still conduct almost daily raids there.
That's a problem for the Palestinian security chief in the Hebron area, who is seeking to advance President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed campaign to impose order in the West Bank and meet Palestinian "road map" commitments to rein in militants.
"The Israelis just called now to say they have an operation and I must take my men off the streets," Brigadier-General Samih al-Saifi told Reuters at his headquarters. Half an hour later, the telephone rings again. The Israeli raid is over.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game," said Saifi, who has overall command of about 3,000 security men and intelligence agents.
He said drug dealers, car thieves or criminals often flee to the Israeli-held zone, where his men cannot pursue them.
"It's like working in a mine field. Despite that, we still cooperate with the Israelis," Saifi said, listing tank shells, an explosives belt and stolen cars among confiscated items his men had recently handed over to Israeli counterparts.
Saifi wants to bring in more than 600 security men, now completing training in Jordan and Jericho, to bolster Palestinian Authority control in Hebron -- whose citizens mostly support Hamas, the Islamist rivals to Abbas's Fatah faction.
"So far there is no approval from the Israeli side, but yes, the plan is to bring them to Hebron," Saifi said.
Abbas, whose forces have received extra U.S. and European support since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in June 2007, has launched security crackdowns in Nablus, Jenin and other West Bank towns in the past year, with some success.
Extending the drive to the southern city of Hebron, where half a dozen big clans exert a powerful sway, could be tough, even if Israel gave the green light. And that seems unlikely.
Asked if a Palestinian deployment in Hebron was being discussed, an Israeli military source said: "Not currently."
Jewish settlers would oppose any such move, even though Palestinian forces would only operate in their own sector.
"Allowing them weapons, with a possible withdrawal of Israeli forces from that side of the city, is a recipe for disaster," said David Wilder, a Hebron settler spokesman.
"Israel has to understand that our security has to be in Israeli hands. They cannot put the security of Israelis living in Hebron or anywhere else into the hands of our enemies."
The settlers created four enclaves in Hebron from 1979 to 1984 to fulfil what they saw as a divine mission to restore a presence in a city whose old Jewish community was removed by British forces after a 1929 riot in which Arabs killed 67 Jews.
In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a U.S.-born doctor and settler, shot dead 29 Palestinians in the mosque built over the Cave of the Patriarchs, before survivors beat him to death.
Such bloody episodes fuel the raw hostility between the religiously driven settlers and their deeply conservative Muslim neighbours feeling the sting of Israeli occupation.
Palestinians are also divided among themselves. Rivalry between Fatah and Hamas injects a political element into security efforts by Abbas's forces in Hebron and elsewhere.
Israeli incursions to hunt for militants have continued, notably in Nablus, undermining the credibility of Palestinian forces that began cracking down there last year.
"People say, 'You ran the campaign (in Nablus) and the Israelis finished it'," said a Palestinian security source in Hebron. "Israel wants to embarrass us before the people."
Hamas, which won all of Hebron's nine parliamentary seats in 2006 elections, accuses Abbas's Palestinian Authority of working with Israel in a U.S.-approved drive against its Islamist foes.
Abbas should coordinate with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions before launching any security plan in Hebron, said Bassem Zarir, a local MP for Hamas's Reform and Change bloc.
"If the aim is law enforcement, we are with it 100 percent. But if it is to eliminate the resistance or factions opposed to the Palestinian Authority, we are against it," he said.
Few Palestinians in Hebron seemed satisfied with security in a city bedevilled by a plethora of competing authorities.
"There's the Israelis, the police and the clans," said Ziad al-Jaberi, 22, a waiter. "The clans are stronger than the police, who hide in their bases whenever the Israelis enter Hebron. This doesn't provide security for anyone."
(Additional reporting by Haitham Tamimi in Hebron and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Clar Ni Chonghaile)
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

At the global newspaper all lives are (not) equal.

Don't believe the coverage given to events in the U.S.A reflects the interests and views of its largely American editors?

Take a look at these stories from one day on, Saturday 9th August, 2008 and draw your own conclusions.

14 American Christians killed in a bus crash (does the IHT need to cover bus crashes?) get a lot more coverage than 18 Muslims killed in the biggest suicide attack since suicide bombers struck Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad and a protest by Kurds in Kirkuk last month, killing nearly 60 people in total.

This is no way to run a global newspaper for a global audience.

14 reported dead in Texas bus crash
A bus carrying a group of Vietnamese Catholics on their way to a pilgrimage plunged off a Texas highway early Friday morning, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores more injured.The accident occurred just after midnight near Sherman, Texas, about 60 miles north of Dallas, and may have been a result of a blown tire, although local police are still investigating the cause, according to local press reports.
The bus had been chartered by members of two Houston churches who were traveling to Carthage, Missouri, site of an annual gathering of Vietnamese Catholics known as Marian Days.
The police who arrived at the scene of the crash found the smashed vehicle lying on its side beneath an overpass of U.S. Highway 75. Baggage and bodies — some dead, some injured — were strewn amid the wreckage of glass and metal shards.
"You've got 50-something people laying everywhere," Tony Walden, a Sherman police officer, told The Dallas Morning News. "I don't even know how to describe it."
Twelve people died at the scene, The Associated Press reported, and another passenger died later at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, according to a hospital spokeswoman. A 14th passenger was also reported dead. Dozens of injured passengers were transported to area hospitals by helicopter, and at least five were in critical condition.
A 3 a.m. phone call on Friday alerted the Rev. Dominic Trinh about the crash; three members of his church, Our Lady of Lavang in Houston, had been killed, and others had been injured.Father Trinh, the church's pastor, said that his parishioners had rented several buses and vans for the five-hour trip to Marian Days, an annual event named for the Virgin Mary and convened by a religious order called the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix. Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics travel to the group's headquarters in Carthage for the event, which began in the late 1970s.
Angel Tours, the Houston-based company that owned the bus, was barred by federal regulators from making trips across state lines, The Houston Chronicle reported. The company had also been fined for various violations in the past three years, the report said.
This was the first year that the church had used the company for its trip, Father Trinh said. He was planning an evening mass for his mourning congregation.
"Anything that happen is God's providence," Father Trinh said, when asked what he would discuss during the mass. "We must trust in God and put the people in God's hand. And pray, just pray for them."
The other passengers on the bus belonged to the Vietnamese Martyrs Church, also in Houston.Many of the passengers spoke only Vietnamese, the police said. "What do you say when you see bodies all over the place and screaming for help and they're talking a language you don't understand?" Lieutenant Robert Fair, of the Sherman police department, told The News. "That's pretty much the definition of chaotic."

Nine killed in vehicle rollover in Arizona
PHOENIX: Nine people were killed and 10 injured when a sports utility vehicle packed with suspected illegal immigrants overturned on a desert highway south of Phoenix, police said on Thursday.Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said the vehicle ran off state route 79 on Thursday morning."The vehicle hit a wash at a high rate of speed and flipped over. ... People appear to have been thrown from the vehicle," Graves said. "We have a suspicion that the people involved were undocumented aliens."Graves said the injured were flown to local hospitals.Arizona straddles the busiest human and drug smuggling corridor into the United States from Mexico.
Two years ago, 10 people were killed when an SUV packed with illegal immigrants overturned on a desert road near Yuma in western Arizona.
Czech train crash kills at least 10 and injures 100
PRAGUE: An international express train crashed into a collapsed bridge in the Czech Republic on Friday, killing 10 people and injuring at least 100. The EuroCity train, travelling from the Polish city of Krakow to the Czech capital, crashed at the speed of about of about 140 km (87 miles) per hour. "An international train from Krakow to Prague ran into a collapsed bridge which fell on the rails in the area of the town Studenka," said Radek Joklik, spokesman for the Czech Railways.Studenka lies about 350 km from Prague and close to the eastern Czech city of Ostrava and the Polish border.
Car bomb in Iraq kills 18 and wounds 25
MOSUL, Iraq: A car bomb in a vegetable market in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar killed 18 people and wounded 25 on Friday, police said.The town, 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, is near the city of Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi troops have cracked down on al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants in recent months.The attack was the biggest since suicide bombers struck Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad and a protest by Kurds in Kirkuk last month, killing nearly 60 people in total.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

A future of newsprint believer

Media Bistro are consistently down on the future of newspapers (they would be, they are online only).

But they have written up that someone is still a believer, and so am I.

Just not with Newspaper 1.0. Bring on Newspaper 2.0.

Hearst Invests in Dying Business
William Randolph Hearst built his publishing empire one newspaper at a time. The heads of his company, the Hearst Corporation, are determined to follow in his footsteps, despite all signs that maybe that isn't the best idea.
Today, Hearst — already owners of 16 daily and 49 weekly newspapers, including the
Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle — announced it bought eight more of ink-stained wretches from MediaNews Group, Inc. The "jewel" of the bunch is the Connecticut Post (and its companion Web site), but Hearst also now owns weekly papers the Darien News-Review, Greenwich Citizen, Fairfield Citizen-News, New Canaan News-Review, New Milford Spectrum, Norwalk Citizen-News, and Westport News, as well as gaining "management control" of The Advocate, Greenwich Time, and The News-Times.
Admittedly, most of the properties are based in wealthy areas, but still we must ask: newspapers? Really? Were they free? But don't fret, William.
Orson Welles preserved your legacy quite nicely.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

The IHT in the Air

One of the problems for the IHT is that so much of its circulation is reliant on free distribution on airlines

More precisely:
a) they get paid peanuts for it and are even charged to be on board in some cases. With aviation kerosene prices through the roof, getting weight down on loads is vital for airlines - free newspapers for customers is an easy hit: save on cost of buying them and load factor;
b) free newspapers on airlines cuts into the IHTs proper sales and most importantly perpetually re-inforces the perception amongst occassional readers and advertisers, that this is not a daily newspaper people take at their home or office, but only glance at when travelling. (Largely true: strip out airline copies from the IHT's global circulation numbers and it ain't pretty.)

That being said, people who travel are interesting to advertisers. Long ago I thought the IHT should do a weekly or monthly round up of the news/best articles as a glossie for airlines.

However, the future is uncertain for in-flight print, even if for now the glossies do well. Which takes us full circle to earlier posts about IHT-TV.

Magazines Continue to Thrive at 30,000 Feet
The magazine industry may be plummeting to its eventual demise down here on solid ground, but the airplane glossies are flying high, so to speak. The free airplane magazines such as Sky, American Way and WorldTraveler that can always be found stuffed into seat pockets are doing just fine, and unlike just about everything else to do with flying, are still free. How is this possible? Advertisers love them! They also love the fact that people apparently give these mags a lot more attention, an "average of 26 minutes per issue."
However, this elevated state may not last forever. Increasing fuel prices eventually effect everyone and USAT
says that a number of airlines are taking measures to reduce the actual heft of the publications, including transitioning the magazine online to the in-flight entertainment system and switching to lighter paper.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Get with it: Blogging

I've come to the view that blogging is so mainstream now that the IHT/NYT should get out of the editorial opinion business (and leave it to bloggers) to provide opinion. People want facts, and the opinions of people actively involved in a given subject, not the views of an anonymous elite that make up the NYT editorial board.

Provided the opinion pages are well-balanced, and made up of real experts, then the accusations of liberal or conservative bias are taken off the table.

That's not to say the IHT couldn't steer people to a good mix of the best bloggers.

( could be one of them, should be one of them, in order to promote a sense and place of community for a widely dispersed global audience.)

For me this would be a part of Newspaper 2.0: recognising and using blogging, not denegrating it.

Anyway, according to Media Bistro, blogging has hit the big time, based on.....a blogger getting an advert from Gap!

Here's their view:

Blogging Officially Hits the Big Time

We've mentioned a number of times in the past few months how bloggers and the term blogging seem to be infiltrating the mainstream. The Times used the term "blog" in an above the fold headline. Obama mentioned bloggers in his Berlin speech. And just this week a Talk of the Town item quoted Jezebel. But nothing says success like an ad campaign! Which is what Scott Schuman, also known as The Sartorialist (by far the most interesting fashion site on the web) has landed at the Gap. Who says there's no money in blogging.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

How is the IHT delivered?

Regarding my previous post on the accident involving an IHT delivery person in Spain, a Think! reader wrote to me saying that "one strong point in favor of digital delivery of content: Nobody ever gets hurt."

That's true, and what the accident rate worldwide is for the extensive numbers of people delivering the IHT each morning, I don't know, and I doubt the IHT does either, as all hand-delivery operations are contracted out to local hand-delivery companies.

Hence any problem with delivery is passed from Reader in Country X to IHT Customer Service in HK, then by them to the hand-delivery company, then to the route manager and then to the individual driver, and then back again by the same route.

This may sound inefficient but in the days of email, pretty easy. Email also demands instant response and a paper trail. Before it was all un-noted phone calls and faxes and a shambles.

Pre-1997 many people complained directly to the IHT's local subcontractors:

a) who obviously didn't tell the IHT when they screwed up and ;
b) meant the IHT had no idea of its delivery failure/complaint rate per 1,000 copies delivered
c) and meant the IHT was paying these hand-delivery companies for copies not delivered.

In some countries it was an absolute disaster zone until someone got some grip on the situation.

1997, when the subs operation was overhauled, saw the highest subscription growth in decades and I don't think that annual growth figure has been surpassed since. If I remember rightly it was about 10% up on the previous year, which just goes to show how much slack there is within a badly run subscription operation, either marketing or customer service or both.

I wonder if anyone has the complaints per thousand figure to hand at the IHT?

They certainly do at the NYT and most American newspapers. Indeed in the days of declining subscriptions and increased prices, getting the paper delivered as promised is critical to retention. Otherwise people give up and go to the Internet.

The Think! reader and IHT subcriber in Spain, who tipped me off to the crash, had this to say:

"Driving today --at least to me--seems almost as perilous as in those faraway days when the Herald--in its first steps towards global expansion--would send cars from Paris to Deauville and other French provinces for early morning delivery. As far as I'm concerned the age of the motor vehicle (so dear to James Gordon Bennett) has passed. Automobiles clog up our cities, damage our planet, our health, have taken us to war... But that's another story."

He also asked if I knew what different forms of transportation are used to deliver the IHT from its print sites worldwide?
"Shouldnt an increased use of rail be encouraged?" he asks.

I'll try and get a more considered response from the IHT traffic manager in Paris on this one, who's probably on holiday in August, a great guy called John (an American) who has been with the IHT in Paris for years and who would know more about this subject than anyone.

But very briefly: when the price of transmission to remote print sites crashed in the 1990s and becomes cheaper every year, the number of print sites worldwide exploded, meaning that most major capital cities have a print site nearby. But certainly before this, there was a much heavier reliance on planes - and perhaps trains.

From the print site, where the paper comes off the presses in the early hours of the morning, the paper is then sent by cars, in practically all cases, some planes (e.g the Canaries in Spain), to the various cities where the IHT offers hand delivery. At a pick-up point, local drivers with their own cars then pick up their route packages and do the deliveries. Problems usually occur when a new route driver is taken on or when a relief driver is covering for holidays or sickness.

Given that in most cases the delivery is taking place before 0700 am the roads are relatively empty and don't contribute to much congestion. I really can't see how it would be possible to economically distribute the IHT in cities in a timely manner without using cars, although in some larger cities some routes are taken by people on motorbikes or scooters.

But the main carbon footprint of distribution would be planes, and this has largely being removed by transmission to what is now a staggering number of print sites (I can't remember the current amount off the top of my head, but look on your IHT and you can see where the paper is printed, and the other cities where the paper has print sites: bottom of page 2 if memory serves me?)

That being said, the IHT is available in over 181 countries and territories, not always on Day A, but mostly. That is a hell of an achievement and has to be one of the best distribution systems of any product anywhere in the world. Why the guy who co-ordinates this vast global operation involving print sites down to route drivers isn't the highest paid guy at the IHT is beyond me.

I should add that some countries have special late delivery postal systems specificaly for newspapers so that they can arrive on Day A. France is a good example: I live in the middle of nowhere, and my IHT arrives at exactly 13.00hrs, almost without fail.

If it doesn't arrive, it's not down, in my particular case, to my local 'facteur' Gilles (how he always hits my house at 13.00 on the dot is one of life's remaining mysteries) but due to the fact that the paper was printed late, and therefore missed the deadline to go into the newspaper postal delivery.

Late printing can be a result of a cock-up at the IHT in Paris, or late breaking news when they just feel they have to hold the presses.

Of course, you can have an unreliable postman near you, and there is NOTHING the IHT can do about this.

The IHT's traffic manager is a rather reserved man, and I doubt many global IHT employees even know his name.

The man is a genius, has probably the single most challenging job of any IHT employee, is an intellect and charming, so I'll write to him and ask for more info on the use of trains as part of the IHT's delivery operation.

One nice anecdote: the NYT once sent some McKinsey management consultants to work out how to improve the IHT's performance. It took them months to work out how the IHT even functioned, then came up with some extremely mundane recommendations, all at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars: always the danger of using outside, non-industry specialist consultants.

One young MBA buck was sitting in John's office, trying to work out how the hell he got the paper to so many people on Day A, and how to do it more efficiently, and asked John, who had a a large map of Europe on his office wall, where exactly in Germany Luxembourg was. (Cars actually go from the Belgium print site to Luxembourg).

John smiled politely, explained that Luxembourg was a country, not a city in Germany, and surprise surprise, McKinsey didn't come up with any distribution ideas.

That level of Manhattan brilliance was reflected throughout their hundred page report of tosh.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Serious Accident for IHT delivery man in Spain.

According to a Think! reader in Spain, they received this message on August 6th, 2008

"Dear Subscribers,

Due to a serious accident with our car to Barcelona we will have no distribution in Barcelona today. All copies were destroyed and it is uncertain we can find sufficient supplies to deliver Barcelona subscribers on Day B. The driver was taken to the hospital and we are awaiting further news on his condition.

Your account will be credited for a day.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Best Regards,

Gina Wong
World Wide Subscriptions Manager"

"Perhaps the Subs department could send readers or the Think! blog," wrote the IHT subscriber and Think! reader in Spain, "an update on the Madrid-Barcelona route driver's condition. I'm sure you'll join me in wishing him a fast recovery."


I will write to Gina and try and find out how the driver is. IHT delivery people really do a hard job - early in the morning, finding difficult to access buildings, often at the whim of late printing or problems outside their control. Most are pretty good, a few very slack but they generally get weeded out soon enough. The control of deliveries and the customer service operation dramatically improved in 1997 of thereabouts. For a while I was the worldwide subscriptions manager for moving on to greater glories.

Gina btw, works out of Hong Kong, where the subscriptions customer service operation has been centralised, although subscriptions marketing with EMEA is carried out by Kevin Hickman (a Brit) in London, and by Gina in Hong Kong.

Gina is a Brit, with Chinese parents, who returned to Hong Kong. I met her a few times in Hong Kong and rate her very highly.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

IHT-TV and Alan Friedman

I was blathering on recently about the IHT and film and TV and wrote about IHT-TV and Alan Freidman, wondering whatever came of it/him/

Further to that post, here's some info from a Think! reader on the subject:

"IHT-TV was a strange beast. I caught it a couple of times in its dying days on the Italian public news channel "Rai News 24". Distribution at its best I seem to recall was very scarce (a few airlines, Indian TV channels...).

Alan Friedman is still pretty big in Italy (so much so, that he is regularly impersonated: His company (co-run with ex-CNNer John Defterios) seems to be more focused on content for News Corp's Italian news channel "Sky News 24" nowadays as well as branded content (fancy infomercials?) for CNBC Europe and other broadcasters. But that's according to their website that doesnt seem to have been updated since 2006 (Fact Based Communications:"

Looks like it is no more then.

Alan, if you're checking in, we'd love to hear what happened.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Holidays and that article I wrote for L'Express

I posted recently I was going on holidays. That didn't happen - or rather was delayed until next week - but I mentioned in the post, with a photo of the cover, an article I had written about the Auvergne, that was published in L'Express.

It was nothing to do with newspapers or the IHT but a Think! reader has kindly asked me whether he could read it, so here it is:

The Auvergne
by Ian Walthew

Auvergnats always ask why you chose their ‘pays’, can’t understand how you could leave yours.

You don’t want to disappoint with the prosaic truth.

That you were searching for anywhere with a little land, south of an east-west axis traversing Lyon (the weather); more than 100 km from any airport that can take a Ryanair jet (to avoid their passengers).

Somewhere to hide from people talking about property prices, private schools and ‘plans for the weekend’.

That you were searching for a place where you could still smell the soil and the ‘fumier’ and the ‘cave’ on the clothes of your friends.

That you saw a house on the internet in a region called the Auvergne, a region you had never visited; that this house was too close to a RN, but the contours rolled well over the map, distant from the blue lines of autoroutes – you’d pass by this place on your way back to Paris from the south one day.

And we did.

People think they can find good houses, places, people. But you can’t. They find you. You set out, drift around, and wash up on a friendly shore.

Most people are scared of the open sea, the great expanse of the Auvergne, so they take the TGV to places they know, places where they have friends and acquaintances, places where they drop anchor with their urban determination to self-associate.

The Auvergne has no TGV, it’s poor. That’s why the people are so welcoming and hospitable, says my neighbor, Jean-Baptiste.

He’s 86 now, a retired ‘menusier’, the missing fingers to prove it. He speaks Oc, at the market – when it’s not too hot, too cold, too wet, too snowy, too foggy - when the ‘troisieme generation’ go down the mountain early in the morning to talk a lot and buy a little.

Rich people, rich places, they’re not so welcoming, they don’t give so much. Arms are held wide to greet you but the embrace never tightens.

My wife didn’t want to go too far south, to the land of two seasons and burnt, aching, brown grass. In the Auvergne, winter is long, but spring and autumn explode and implode in shades of colours too fleeting to paint; the summer is hot and languid, deserved by the trials of winter, not an easy given.

The Auvergnats like to think of themselves as reserved, cautious, private. They can’t show their endless curiosity about you, because here privacy is hallowed, so their questions are absurdly roundabout or so direct so as to appear unlike a question at all - more a statement of fact that you may wish to confirm or not. (I do, they don’t.)

But they do open up, and quicker than they like to acknowledge. They are a kind, warm people with a brusque façade but one which is easily chipped in the cold, melted in the heat of shared seasons.

How would you describe Auvergnats, Jean-Baptiste?
‘There aren’t many of us left.’
He pauses, sitting on a bench in his ‘potagère’, made of a piece of wood rested on two old oil drums, in the shade of June apple tree, green and hopeful. Reflecting. ‘Amoureux,’ he smiles.
And their faults?
‘We have none. No, one mustn’t exaggerate. Of course, I’m sure we do.’
‘Such as?’
He doesn’t like to say.

They’re not to be shared lightly, not with the readers of a newspaper that Jean-Baptiste has only vaguely heard of, and certainly never read.

So this ‘foreigner’ (and here that word doesn’t mean coming from another nation) will tell you things you know but do not understand.

That ‘radinerie’ (stinginess) is a virtue, nothing is wasted. And you dare to speak of reducing consumption, of recycling and saving this planet.

That for the Auvergnats, land is an obsession: their willingness to argue over a 20 cm strip of useless ground; the story of a family picnic where two brothers end up fighting over who would sit under the shade of which of two trees.

So how did we get here? We stumbled, that’s the answer. Emotional refugees from a land of loss to the Auvergne, a place of endless discovery.

The EU and one arm of the government pours millions into the region to attract incomers like us, while another Minister closed the maternity ward and threatens Ambert hospital that brought us near this town, where our third child was born.

I asked Brice Hortefeux (when he was sent last year from a place called Paris to win over the bourgeoisie in the valley) why this was, why one hand could give so much while the other took away life, our future.

That’s a good question, he said.

(His suit looked very expensive in our marketplace, positively gleaming, his tie so fat and silky, his hair coiffured like a woman’s: that must be what they call ‘French flair’.)

So what’s the answer then?

His bodyguards hustled him away. He didn’t stay long.

The Auvergne: apparently a part of a country, ‘une et indivisible’. But I see no proof.

A place where the poor own their homes and their land, and have done for generations.

Where everyone has the right to build their own home on their own land, however ugly-pink and destructive to the Auvergne’s greatest asset – the ‘patrimoine’ that serves the tourists – and turn the roads leading to its towns into messy, elongated stains.

A place where Jean-Baptiste, the third generation of his family to live in his house, who has had three neighbouring families in his family’s life here, his place, greets an Anglo-Australian couple with two children and a removal fan from Brussels without missing a beat (nor when his dog kills our cat two days later, nor when our dog kills his chickens). Curious. Calm.

It was close to misery here; people got by on 3 or 4 cows. They ate beef only once a year, even the rich who could live well off 10-15 cows. The Fete du Pays, August 10th, a beef pot-au-feu.

We eat more beef now. There is little misery, not much money. But life in the Auvergne is a life apart: simple, straightforward, our table the farm food of ‘petits producteurs’ (still); clean air and cold water that slide off and out of primordial mountains; stories old and new, jokes, a small universe, an immense space of freedom.

Do we live in France? I’ve no idea.

Ian Walthew is the author of ‘A Place in My Country: In Search of a Rural Dream’ (Phoenix, May 2008, London).
Photos of his mundane, simple life from his place in the Auvergne can be found at

Incidentally, I can't find an American or French publisher for my book 'A Place in My Country', which was well reviewed but no joy thus far.

If anyone can help me, or has any U.S or American publishing contacts, please let me know.


P.S. You can also find another article I wrote, and which was published in the IHT, at by searching on Walthew.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Globe stops Spinning in Marseille?

Clearly the travel writers or headline writers of the IHT/NYT haven't visited a place in the Auvergne if they actually think the globe stops spinning in France's second city!

SURFACING MARSEILLE A spinning globe stops here
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Finally...a Roger Collis column worth reading

Roger Collis, the IHT's well-worn travel 'guru' has a recurring habit of writing columns that are boring, repetitive and not very useful.

Most of the time I feel like screaming to these people who write to him with their tedious travel questions about how to get from A to B: LOOK ON THE NET OR ASK A BLOODY TRAVEL AGENT!

But this piece on train travel in Europe was readable, interesting and useful.

More please.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

What's the connection between interest rates and sport?

Don't ask me but the editors of must think there is one, as judged by finding this article Bank of England expected to hold rates steady in the sports section of the daily article index for Wednesday 6th August.

Perhaps someone is on holiday?
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Life at Time Warner

Time Warner earnings fall 26% as subscribers decline

NEW YORK: Time Warner's second-quarter earnings fell 26 percent on declining subscriber fees at its AOL online unit and lower ad revenue at the Time publishing business, the media conglomerate said Wednesday.
Time Warner affirmed its full-year financial targets after revenue rose at its film, cable and networks segments.
The company also took legal and tax steps that make it possible to split its AOL online business and sell it in parts.
The New York-based media conglomerate said net income fell to $792 million, or 22 cents per share, from $1.07 billion, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, profit rose to 24 cents per share from 22 cents per share last year, when gains from the sale of assets bolstered results.
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

T.V advertising market hurting too.

ITV says unclear when TV ad downturn will end

LONDON/FRANKFURT: Two of Europe's biggest commercial free-to-air television broadcasters, ITV and ProSiebenSat.1 , said on Wednesday they had no idea when a downturn in advertising spending would end.
Both ITV and Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 beat market expectations with their interim results but their lack of ability to predict the future development of the advertising markets that are their lifeblood sent their shares tumbling.
ITV forecast a 20 percent drop in ad sales in September and a 17 percent drop for the market. Analysts said the prediction was worse than the steep drop they had already expected from last September, when Britain hosted rugby World Cup tournament games.
"We've seen a level of volatility in September that we haven't seen before," Executive Chairman Michael Grade told journalists on a conference call. "We have no visibility beyond September on the advertising market."
ProSiebenSat.1 initially cheered investors by sticking to its full-year target of broadly flat core earnings "despite difficulties in the German market".
International Herald Tribune
New York Times

IHT seeking a market? Try India

The IHT has done a deal in India, but I don't know too much about the details.

This piece from Salon only underscores this market's importance. Talk of Mint and aspiring elites, with an editor who once was the editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe, and before that served as deputy managing editor of the U.S. edition, says it all.

Journalist seeking paycheck? Try India
As U.S. newsrooms shrivel, India's are booming. And they're hiring, not firing reporters and editors.
Editor's note: This story has been
corrected since it was originally published.
By Arun Venugopal

The U.S. news industry is bleeding jobs. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 2,400 journalists left newspaper newsrooms last year, either through layoffs or buyouts, leaving the industry with its smallest workforce since 1984. Circulation and revenue are falling across the country, as are share prices: Gannett, the country's largest newspaper publisher, is seeing its stock trade at around one-third its value a year ago; the New York Times Co. is down 45 percent. Classified advertising revenues have dropped 30 percent over the last two years and the last quarter was one of the industry's worst ever.
Just how bad can it get? The American Journalism Review's Charles Layton recently concluded that "we may begin seeing, pretty soon, big American cities with no daily newspaper."

So, what's an underemployed journalist to do? Some move on to academia or cross over to the dark side of public relations. But a few forward-thinking souls are heading to a land where journalism jobs not only aren't disappearing, but are more plentiful by the day: India.
In recent years, India's steamroller economy has diversified well beyond tech and outsourcing, including a big boom in the news media. Circulation has been steadily growing at Indian newspapers, and new dailies and magazines are popping up on a monthly basis. Among the new serious business publications that cater to the economic elites (or aspiring elites) is
Mint, edited by Raju Narisetti. Narisetti is the former editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe, and before that served as deputy managing editor of the U.S. edition, which helped him lure several journalists from the U.S.
"Mint has a handful of American citizens in its newsroom, including me," he wrote me. "India is a fascinating country where history is being made in many respects so it is a fertile place for good journalism. Hopefully some of the non-Indian journalists will have a better understanding of India when they do go back."
Foreign journalists aren't the only ones taking advantage of India's growth. Rolling Stone has also launched an Indian edition, following Vogue, FHM and Maxim. People magazine's local edition is launching soon. However, the growth is even greater in the non-English media, in part because rural and small-town India are becoming more literate and have more disposable income.
In broadcast, the change is even greater. As a kid growing up in Madras (now Chennai) in the '80s, I can remember sitting through the sole nightly news program, broadcast on Doordarshan, the state-run TV channel. It was excruciatingly dry and slow-paced, but we endured it because "I Love Lucy" followed. Those were desperate times.
Today, however, there are countless news channels, and the choice can be overwhelming. And while that doesn't necessarily translate into quality -- some channels borrow the frothiest aspects of American cable news -- it has meant new opportunities, and wealth. Indian media critic Sevanti Ninan noted that new TV channels are poaching the best journalists from print by offering salaries as high as $180,000 a year. But all of this growth also means that the labor supply isn't keeping up with the demand.
Enter the expat.
In June five graduates and enrolled students from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism headed to New Delhi, where they're starting reporting internships at the
Hindustan Times, one of the largest-selling English language newspapers in the world. I've been in touch with three of the interns, and to my surprise they all said the miserable job market in the U.S. didn't affect their decision to go abroad. But they also agreed that India's media explosion is impossible to resist.
One of them, Michelle Stockman, has been studying multimedia journalism. She e-mailed me from New Delhi, writing that "it's not the tough job market that sent me there -- yet. I decided to go to India because the promised experience just seems tremendous. Readership is skyrocketing, as are profits. The managing editor also said he really wants to strengthen the multimedia elements of the Web site, and there's money available to put into development."

The managing editor of the Hindustan Times is Pankaj Paul, and when he dropped by Columbia's graduate school earlier this year he said he had a lot of jobs available and promised students the sort of assignments and exposure they'd never get at a smaller American newspaper. But the benefits run both ways. In Paul's eyes, the Hindustan Times is getting top young talent who are sharing their skills with a newsroom in transition. Paul himself is the former managing editor at the Wilmington News Journal in Delaware.
"I have met foreigners working at the Hindu, Mint, GQ, the Hindustan Times and Times of India," wrote Scott Carney, a Chennai-based journalist who freelances for NPR, Wired and National Geographic TV. "They all work on Indian salaries, don't speak the language, and all seem to be having a ball. Since there are so many new publications opening up in India, there is a lot of demand for native English speakers and people who can bring higher reporting standards to local papers."
Carney says he turns down two or three assignments a month.
"I pretty much stick only to big investigative stories on subjects that I choose, and leave the daily reporting and feature pieces to other journalists. I have noticed that some American media houses are pulling back their freelance budgets (just try getting an assignment past the foreign desk at NPR these days!). But I bet that freelancers in America are feeling the pinch much more than I am while living on the rupee."
"If anything," he wrote in his e-mail, "I'd like to see more freelancers move to India. There are too many stories to cover and just not enough time to get to them all."
Of course, everything goes in cycles, and Mint's Narisetti, for one, says it's just a matter of time before India's news business cools down and America's discovers a viable new business model. But right now, journalists in India are reclaiming the narrative, after years of seeming as if they were on the receiving end of it, or left out entirely. After all, this is an entire civilization on the ascent, righting itself before our eyes. In that context, journalists -- from India, the U.S. and elsewhere -- serve as the front line of storytellers, even as they are, in this instance, part of the story.

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

Media Bistro on the NYT Reader Survey

Enough About the News, Let's Talk About Us — Why Don't You Like Us?
Wow, so the New York Times seems to be doing its own peculiar impression of Woody Allen at his most neurotic. A recent reader's survey from the Times wants to know what it is exactly about them that you don't like. Was it that whole Judy Miller thing? The General Betray Us ad? Jason Blair? Israel? The Style Section? (kidding! Let's not get crazy).

Bruce Feirstein over at Vanity Fair's Politics&Power blog discovered the survey after randomly clicking through on a Drudge link. The VF people think the survey either signifies a "touchy feely" Times or a "paranoid and frightened" one. Apparently no one suggested it was a sign (albeit a disturbing one) of a paper attempting to keep its head above water during the newspaper world's annus horribilis. Still, questions like "When you think of the New York Times what positive things come to mind?" reek of the worst kind of liberal cliche. It's unclear whose idea the survey was, but assuming it came from the publishing end VF is probably correct in assuming its tone would make editorial "furious." Furthermore, what purpose do questions over Palestinian coverage and whether or not the Times should have run the wire-tapping story earlier serve? Is it merely another case of "Punch" Sulzberger holding out a moose (as Pareene suggests) or are we transitioning into news by consensus? And anyway, isn't that what blogs are for?

IW: it's pretty easy to mock and disect this survey but what I can say, personally, is that the Judy Miller thing was, for me, as a reader of the IHT, an absolute body blow to my belief in the overall credibility of the NYTs and by extension the IHT. I'm not saying I don't still believe they are the gold standard, nor that I haven't always had more than an open ear to the views progressives like Noam C. on the role of big media in the world, and the NYT, but for me it's the best of a bad bunch.

As to the IHT, like it or not, their global (potential readership) care a lot about Israel's illegal occupation and ongoing settlement of much of Palestine and if the perception is that the NYT is pro-Israel - I wonder if that question has yet being put to the global readership: I doubt it - then that's a serious problem.

Personally I find their news coverage reasonably balanced but not sufficient editorial condemnation of Israel for its actions. And even in the news coverage every Israeli death seems to be reported in detail; of the large numbers of Palestinian deaths, not as much.

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

How are things going for ex-IHT web exec Meredith Artley?

Quite well, would seem to be the answer.

Readers' Representative Journal -->
« Ombudsmen columns Main Reporter, readers and the man in the story meet online »

Monthly web report: 127 million page views for July

The performance of, and recent developments there, are covered in this memo to staff from Executive Editor for Interactive Meredith Artley:

We can’t say the summers are slow anymore. set an all-time record of 127 million page views for July, cruising past the previous record of 120 million set in May. That’s 66% growth from this time last year. More than 19 million unique users visited in July, another all-timer.

We were on track to break that May record by a few million page views, and then the earthquake happened, pushing us even further ahead.

You’ll see more traffic driving elements in the most-viewed lists below.

But there are other reasons for the growth.

We’re using technology and the Web at large to spread our journalism far and wide. keeps getting better at SEO (search engine optimization), which means our stories are ranking higher in Google and other search engines. We are also performing better on sites like

All that adds up to more exposure and more readership than ever before.

Other highlights of the month included the launch of
Hero Complex, the new sci-fi and beyond blog featuring Geoff Boucher and other print and Web contributors.

Hero Complex was the home for our outstanding Comic-Con coverage, with great live blogging, creative video and exclusive interviews.

Also, Eric Ulken and the “cool kids” team took a break from their hard news database work and launched a fun database of L.A. dog names and breeds. Some great work went into the “Big Burn” fire series.

And to top it off, is a finalist in four categories for the Online
Journalism Awards:
Breaking News – October Wildfires
Multimedia –
Outstanding Use of Digital Technologies --
California War Dead
Topical Reporting --
Homicide Report

Coming up:

The Olympics blog is about to go full steam ahead with the opening ceremonies this Friday. Folks are also preparing for the conventions later this month.

Most-viewed articles for July:
Jackson's Obama comments almost went unnoticed (Matea Gold)
5.4 quake rocks L.A. area (Joel Rubin, David Pierson and Mitchell Landsberg)
IndyMac Bank seized by federal regulators (Kathy M. Kristof and Andrea Chang)
McCain's broken marriage and fractured Reagan friendship (Richard A. Serrano and Ralph Vartabedian)
For Republicans, the Senate outlook is bad (Janet Hook)
Concerned about gang signs, NFL reviews tapes (Sam Farmer)
Banks hit by fallout from the crisis at IndyMac (E. Scott Reckard and Andrea Chang)
Interrogation, then revenge (Joel Rubin and Ari B. Bloomekatz)
Los Angeles condo sells for $2,848 (per square foot) (Roger Vincent)
In study, evidence of liberal-bias bias (James Rainey)

Top 20 blogs for July follow.

Blog traffic broke an all-time record this month of more than 12 million page views. Tony Pierce notes that July 2007 blog page views were 2.2 million page views. Incredible growth.
Top of the Ticket -- 1,800,770 PVs
The Dish Rag -- 1,666,702
L.A. Land -- 1,205,609
Gold Derby -- 655,369
Show Tracker -- 516,324
Countdown to Crawford (more than 500K in its first full month)
Hero Complex (launched July 16)
Web Scout
The Big Picture
Booster Shots
The Daily Travel & Deal Blog
Opinion L.A.
The Homicide Report
L.A. Now
Ticket to Beijing (Olympics)
Money & Co
Entertainment News & Buzz
L.A. Unleashed
Your Scene, our user-generated photo service, generated 6.6 million page views in July. Bravo to Lindsay Barnett, Your Scene producer extraordinaire.

Top photo galleries:
Dancing badly with the stars (Elizabeth Snead)
10 magazine covers that shook the world
A brief history of the Joker (Patrick Day)
Deaths that shocked us
Celebrity shots
Las Vegas party pools (The Guide)
Gap fire
5.4 quake rocks Los Angeles area
Foreclosed and for sale: Bank-owned listings from Glendale to Redondo Beach
A marriage in pictures: Madonna and Guy (Elizabeth Snead)
Top video:
King-Harbor Hospital lobby death - 21,056 streams - LAT
Security camera captures California earthquake -­ 19,774 streams - ­LAT ­(footage courtesy of Incycle in San Dimas, CA )
Time-lapse journey through Comic-Con - 16,332 streams -­ LAT
Jackson apologizes for remark - 15,603 streams - AP
Woman murdered in Century City - 12,410 streams - LAT
Kenneth Turan reviews ‘The Dark Knight’ - 11,871 streams - LAT
Inside Qantas flight - 2731433 - 11,107 streams - AP


Californians need to prepare for anything - 10,476 streams - KTLA
Customers grow furious outside Encino IndyMac branch - 10,091 streams - KTLA

Quake recap:

LAX flooding, viewer experience, CalTech maps - 9,408 streams - KTLA

That’s it.
Questions, concerns, ideas for an even brighter future? Send ’em along.

Meredith Artley
Executive Editor,

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

The world post Suzy Menkes?

I'm not suggesting for one minute that Suzy Menkes is going to retire anytime soon, nor that she hasn't got many more years to go.

However, what is the post-Suzy strategy for the newspaper?

Without a shadow of a doubt she is the single biggest star journalist the IHT has (sorry Mr. Cohen) and she won't be around for ever. Which is a problem because no other journalist delivers more advertising dollars than her pages, year in, year out.

Here's a glimpse of the future, in an article from the NYT. I must check if the IHT has run it....

Not a word about Suzy.

Why the IHT hasn't done something similar online off the back of the Suzy brand name, while she is still with them, is beyond me.

Where the Fashionistas Go for a Quick Fix
Conceived to mimic mainstream glossies, titles like, and draw international readerships in the hundreds of thousands. But unlike their newsstand competitors, these publications exist exclusively online, updating weekly or even daily, and offering a sense of community that conventional monthlies cannot replicate. What they lack in tactile attraction, they make up for with a multimedia experience encompassing still photography, music, videos, blogs and message boards teeming with opinionated commentary. And if they are not about to slice into the profits of an Elle or a Vogue any time soon, the stars of the genre are luring advertisers, too.
In the current issue of, a Webzine with a multiethnic following, readers can pore over pictures of athletic hipsters, natty on the tennis court in shorts and stiff-pressed blazers; they can read about novel ways to wear a vest; or “page” with a click to coverage of the antics of the tattooed late-night set.
Well-heeled fans of, based in Paris, will encounter a multipage feature about Aurelie Bidermann, a jewelry designer whose silver-dipped lace collars and cuffs are sold at upscale stores. Fashion is part of a rarefied lineup that includes articles on the emergent art scene in Qatar and Abu Dhabi and a lavish pictorial on family safaris in Africa.
“People still like flipping a page and experiencing great photographs on paper,” said Imran Amed, the publisher of The
Business of Fashion, a Web news site. But a Webzine, he said, “can be much more dynamic, change its content faster, create dialogue with a bunch of people passionate about the same topic, and push the envelope in getting them to interact.”
That speed of access and a clubby feeling give Webzines an edge with readers whose need to track down the latest cult jean or downtown boîte borders on compulsion. “These people are the influentials, and they have moved to the Internet,” said Samir Arora, the chief executive of Glam Media, which places advertising on, its aggregate of fashion and lifestyle sites. “Their tastes are redefining the future of fashion on the Web.”
The challenge for a Web magazine is to find ways of reaching them. Most online publishers are self-styled cyberfrontiersmen, struggling to differentiate their sites from the wilderness of chatty blogs, columns and newsletters, few of which have a distinct identity.
The fashion Webscape is “a very blurry world right now,” said Joe Mandese, the editor of, an online business publication. “Everything is kind of a mash-up.” Sites and blogs, he said, are trying to incorporate the kinds of photography and video that have long been the province of print or TV. To stand out, a Webzine needs content that is memorable while sticking with a format that readers will find familiar.
“We wanted people to realize this is just like a fashion magazine,” said Lee Carter, the founder and editor of
Accordingly, Hint, which has, since its debut a decade ago, transformed itself from a gossip-laden Web site into a virtual glossy, is built on content that mirrors that of Nylon or W. Highlights in the current issue include a nine-page fashion feature that shows a Siouxsie Sioux imposter vamping moodily in a clothing and accessories by Martin Grant,
Viktor & Rolf and others.
In a magazine-length interview, the graphic designer and branding guru Fabien Baron filled readers in on the “unspoken seduction that goes on in meeting
Madonna for the first time.” A lightly macabre animated feature titled “Drawing Blood” showcases designs by Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons, set to the music of Munk and Annie.
Hint and other Webzines take their merchandising cues from print magazines, identifying the wares they feature with on-screen brand and store credits or links. A few have made shopping their primary focus. Net-a-Porter Notes (, a weekly catalog dressed up as a magazine, a kind of upscale Lucky, posts trend stories, including one in its July 30 issue that talks up new colors for fall. Readers can buy the berry-tone Phillip Lim dress on its pages by clicking directly on it.
The site shows off the work of new illustrators, stylists, photographers and a handful of fledgling designers. So does the London-based, plucking new faces from design school obscurity. “The whole thrust of our magazine is to provide a platform for emerging talent,” said Guy Hipwell, the editor and founder.
In contrast to traditional magazines, which decide their content months before going to press, a Webzine can update almost instantly, Mr. Hipwell pointed out. “I can literally go to a graduate design show and get the work up on screen the next day.”
His 2-year-old site, published every 12 days and reaching an audience of about 250,000, was created for an estimated $40,000. Mr. Hipwell would not disclose his cost per issue, but acknowledged that he publishes on a shoestring, offering contributors nominal fees or prominent credits and Web links in exchange for work. He operates, of course, without the daunting overhead of real estate, printing and distribution costs.

Though sites like his are proliferating, they often vanish within weeks, which makes the number of online fashion magazines difficult to track. Some struggle for revenues, but a few are drawing blue chip advertisers, including Neiman Marcus, Tiffany and Lancôme. Advertisers can pay $10,000 to $50,000 to promote their products on a Webzine.
Some provide links to their Web sites; others a top-of-page banner or a “skin,” which takes over the white background of a Web page. Some provide a full-color interactive page masquerading as a fashion feature. In a recent edition of Net-a-Porter Notes, Aquascutum took the imaginative leap of inviting the viewers of its page to peek behind the scenes of its ad shoot by clicking to a video.
As Mr. Mandese and his peers point out, advertisers migrate to the Web because it can be cheaper and more cost effective. Gucci is paying $50,000 to be the exclusive sponsor of a three-month fall campaign on A single color page in a leading fashion glossy can cost $60,000 to $110,000.
Results of online advertising are also more readily measured. Sales and traffic can be tracked by reader click-throughs to marketers’ Web sites.
Advertising is often placed on a group of sites through increasingly powerful and competitive “vertical” networks like AdBrite, Adcision and Glam Media, a behemoth that operates more than 600 sites and has 77 million unique worldwide visitors a month, according to
comScore Media Metrix.
“Arguably the networks represent the threat to print from online,” said Barry Parr, a media analyst with
Forrester Research. But he added that for an advertiser, “there is nothing you can do on the Web that can substitute for the impact of an eight-page insert in the September Vogue.”
Others counter that Webzines are even now siphoning revenues from their print-world cousins. “The preponderance of ad spending is still in the traditional media,” Mr. Mandese said. But, he said, as marketers reach for Web audiences, which are widely perceived as hipper and more influential than those for print, “we are going to see a rationalization to shift money online just because it looks good.”
Many traditional magazines have struggled to find an online audience, often because their content so closely mimics the print and because they aim for the mainstream.
“Readers’ interests have becoming increasingly and deeply fragmented,” Mr. Arora said. To cater to those interests, Webzines are poaching print-world editors respected for their expertise in subjects that vary from models to designer mules.
“In the future there won’t be one all-powerful fashion editor — there will be many,” Mr. Arora said. “We are looking for the 20 new Anna Wintours.”

International Herald Tribune
New York Times