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:
More and More, I Talk to the Dead--Margaret Renkl
NASHVILLE — After my mother died so suddenly — laughing at a rerun of “JAG” at 10 p.m., dying of a hemorrhagic stroke by dawn — I dreamed about her night after night. In every dream she was willfully, outrageously alive, unaware of the grief her death had caused. In every dream relief poured through me like a flash flood. Oh, thank God!
Then I would wake into keening grief all over again.
Years earlier, when my father learned he had advanced esophageal cancer, his doctor told him he had perhaps six months to live. He lived far longer than that, though I never thought of it as “living” once I learned how little time he really had. For six months my father was dying, and then he kept dying for two years more. I was still working and raising a family, but running beneath the thin soil of my own life was a river of death. My father’s dying governed my days.
After he died, I wept and kept weeping, but I rarely dreamed about my father the way I would dream about my mother nearly a decade later. Even in the midst of calamitous grief, I understood the difference: My father’s long illness had given me time to work death into the daily patterns of my life. My mother’s sudden death had obliterated any illusion that daily patterns are trustworthy.
Years have passed now, and it’s the ordinariness of grief itself that governs my days. The very air around me thrums with absence. I grieve the beloved high-school teacher I lost the summer after graduation and the beloved college professor who was my friend for more than two decades. I grieve the father I lost nearly 20 years ago and the father-in-law I lost during the pandemic. I grieve the great-grandmother who died my junior year of college and the grandmother who lived until I was deep into my 40s.
Some of those I grieve are people I didn’t even know. How can John Prine be gone? I hear his haunting last song, “I Remember Everything,” and I still can’t quite believe that John Prine is gone.
Jan. 30, 2023