I understand branding and consolidation in the new electronic age. Still, allow me some nostalgia over the change from the International Herald Tribune to the International New York Times, effective Tuesday.
The Tribune was itself a landmark brand, descended from the original New York Herald Tribune, hawked on a Paris boule-vard by Jean Seberg in the movie Breathless. “Hey, get your Tribune! Get your New York Herald Tribune!” is the way I remember her spiel, in her corn-fed Iowa accent.
Young Americans traveled to Paris, to Europe, and needed to catch up on the ball scores, or something less important, so we bought the Tribune for news of home. But the Tribune aimed at an international readership with serious articles about politics and finance. Undoubtedly the Times is doing it bigger and better.
But an institution is gone. I used to drop in to the Tribune office from time to time, vaguely hoping somebody would offer me a job so I could live in Paris. It was a raffish ex-pat world, three or four decades ago, when the Tribune was in the Rue de Berri -- sort of Rick’s Café Américain, with typewriters.
In the last hours of the IHT, I called somebody who used to work there – Corinna V. Wilson, now the vice president of programming and on-air interviewer at PCN, based in Harrisburg, Pa., but for much of her junior year abroad a copy girl at the IHT. Also, our daughter.
“It was not an American work place,” she said with evident fondness. “There was an international zeitgeist to it.” She would hustle from classes to the office in Neuilly, often jollying up the union members in the composing room, inasmuch as she spoke French. She speaks with great respect for the editors and reporters on the small staff. They were serious people, with great backgrounds, she said, and the mood was “collegial,” at the very French mandatory dinner hour and after-hours excursions to Les Halles.
As a lawyer who was previously the chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, Wilson understands the need to synchronize resources.
“It’s a good move, I get it,” she said, but she had advice for the ambassadors from the home office: “They’ll have to listen. It’s different.”
Back in the day, the Tribune was partly owned by the Times, but it was not the Times, bien sûr. Now you can get ball scores on line, any time of day. No more hustling down to the kiosk to buy the Tribune to find out how the Red Sox and Yankees did in their playoff game. It’s a new world, and an evolving product, in good hands. Bonne chance.
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I wrote my piece before discovering Hendrik Hertzberg had done a riff for the New Yorker in March, using the same Seberg photo. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2013/03/adieu-international-herald-tribune.html
This is the New York Times article on the turnover:
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.