Farewell to the International Herald Tribune
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.
* * *
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:
10/15/2013 09:58:21 am
Dear Mr Vecsey,
10/16/2013 02:47:03 pm
The Trib had its own style but economics got to it.
10/16/2013 03:13:18 pm
I did not know that, but that is somehow comforting. I know Red Smith wrote for the Trib. Didn't Kempton work there as well?
10/17/2013 01:34:27 am
He worked for the old NY Post before it was taken over by the Murdochites and then for the late lamented New York Newsday before Newsday retrenched. He was a giant. And he rode a bicycle through the streets of New York (in a suit) before the current Bloombergian era. What a sight, to see Murray Kempton heading for city hall or some court room. My favorite columnist, all time. GV
10/15/2013 06:11:12 pm
GV - I have learned to live without the slippery feel of newsprint in the morning. Things change. When I was growing up, The Bronx Home News was still published, as was the Suffolk Sun. Those papers served a much narrower readership, both in terms of demographics and philosophy, than did (and does) the newly minted INYT. But narrow as they were, their shadows crossed my doorstep regularly until they disappeared like gangland victims. We're talking about a name change in an era that saw so many great papers absorbed and dissolved. There are no major editorial changes in store at the International. Do we mourn the name even if the thing it represents goes on? I learned to live without the Journal-American Sunday funnies and the Long Island Press sports page because they were gone. Most of the comics migrated to the Daily News and Newsday, most of the sportswriters landed jobs elsewhere, but the thing was gone and truly missed. I don't see the big deal here. It's like complaining about an ingrown toenail the day after 9/11.
10/16/2013 04:36:07 am
Charlie, I think it's a valid function of my old age to miss certain things. I'm still getting over Ebbets Field -- but also miss L'Angolo Cafe in Greenwich Village, and Murray Kempton's presence in public life, and, for that matter, a rational center of Congress, too. Fortunately, the NYT has a grip on its transitions, but that doesn't mean I don't miss that odd bird known as the IHT. GV
10/16/2013 05:14:32 am
Okay, but if I have to keep making allowances for people older than I, it's going to get to a point where I'm holding doors open while clinging to my walker.
10/15/2013 08:37:06 pm
10/16/2013 02:19:16 pm
Surely there are many of us who envy Alan Rubin because, unlike him, we weren’t able to buy a copy of the IHT on its last day. But there’s good news: the NYTimes ran a special feature which included a lot (maybe all?) of material from the supplement Alan refers to. True, it’s not the same as holding the hard copy in your hands, and then putting it in a special place on your bookshelf; but it’s a lot better than nothing. Here’s the link: www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/10/14/business/media/turning-the-page.html
10/17/2013 12:50:04 am
10/17/2013 12:21:00 pm
Lew: Nice to hear from an all-city guard. I'm not an expert, but I think the home office has recognized the need for one system. It's complicated because the actual start of the newspaper cycle is in Asia. I don't know much about what they are doing, but it makes me feel good as an NYT lifer to see a marshaling of forces...and yet I lament the individuality of the IHT. See you soon, GV
Thor A. Larsen
10/19/2013 01:06:26 pm
Wow! The International Herald Tribune is shutting down is very sad to me due to the vivid memories of the paper I had living in Europe on two occasions, a summer n Norway right after high school and a two-year stint in Southern England in late 1970's. In the first case, before TV, IHT was my daily connection to US, especially the baseball scores of the Yankees, the great summer of 1956. TV in England in the 1970's did not include CNN yet, so life with BBC was limited, and again, we needed frequent IHT to feel connected to the USA, again, especially the US perspective of the troubling times in the late 1970's, President Carter etal, and of course, sport results which the Guardian etc did not provide except in very limited basis. IHT was also vastly superior to USA Today in content in later years. I suppose the Internet helped kill this fine publication.
10/20/2013 04:04:35 am
Thor, it's been re-branded as the International New York TImes, a process over recent years, but effective this month. I don't know the fine points of the turnover, but I do know it's a serious journalistic step for the future. For all that, I miss the quirky IHT, the hybrid. Would the IHT pick up Dave Anderson's column or Tom Boswell's from the Post? The line scores of ball games played a day or two earlier. But it was also a mirror into politics and art of Europe. Now the day begins in Asia. What would Jean Seberg's character think? (Did she read the product she was hawking?)
Thor A. Larsen
10/20/2013 11:00:20 am
Thanks for the update George on International New York Times as the replacement. Will try to follow this new paper presuming I can get access online since I am a NY Times subscriber.
10/20/2013 02:07:25 pm
11/4/2013 03:43:13 am
Bernie Kirsch wrote sports for Newsday in the late 1960s, for just a few years. He left to become sports editor of the IHT. Vivian and I were in Paris for a few glorious weeks in 1971 and got together with Bernie a couple of times.
11/7/2013 05:36:44 am
Frank, I think Bernie still lives in NYC...he was a wine expert for the NYT, but haven't seen his name in a year or so.
11/13/2013 01:48:19 am
to george and frank, mes amis
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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.