End of an era as venerable ‘Herald Tribune’ to be reborn as ‘International New York Times’
Change reflects aim to build international presence and bow to digital age
The International Herald Tribune headquarters in Paris. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/GettyImages)
In the 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, the first thing Ernest Hemingway’s fictional alter ego, Jake Barnes, does on returning from Spain to France is to buy the New York Herald from a kiosk in Bayonne, sit down at a cafe and read it.
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 New Wave film classic Breathless consecrated the newspaper – by that time called the New York Herald Tribune – as a symbol of expatriate American life in Paris, portraying Jean Seberg as a student hawking the paper on the Champs-Élysées.
The International Herald Tribune, its name since 1967, will appear for the last time on Monday, to be reborn the following day as the International New York Times.
Richard Stevenson, the Europe editor of the INYT, and Larry Ingrassia, the assistant managing editor for new initiatives, on a visit from New York, met with the Anglo-American Press Association at the INYT’s offices in the Paris suburb of Courbevoie.
The AAPA seemed to have been cast as representatives of print journalism. These days, anyone who mourns the death foretold of letters delivered by post, bound books and printed newspapers is assumed to be a modern-day Luddite, after the 19th-century weavers and farmers who smashed mechanised looms and threshing machines in Britain.
There was a certain tension with Stevenson and Ingrassia, the young Turks from New York and the embodiment of the digital world. “You are wiping out a great tradition which you don’t really understand,” said Ronald Koven, one of several AAPA members who had worked for “the Trib”.
“The only thing that’s changing on [Tuesday] October 15th are the words at the top of the flag,” Stevenson protested. “This is not some sort of hostile takeover . . . We love the print paper. We are going to put out a print paper for as long as we can, but the growth in readership is elsewhere.”
The future is digital, Stevenson and Ingrassia repeated like a mantra. The NYT still earns more from print than from the internet, but as print circulation declines, digital subscriptions rise. Print advertising subsides; digital advertising grows.
About 10 per cent of the NYT’s more than 700,000 digital subscribers are outside the US. “I’d be thrilled if we could double that to 20 per cent in a couple of years,” Ingrassia said.
Asked how long he thought print newspapers would survive, Ingrassia replied: “I don’t think it will die in the next five years, but I think it will die . . . The richness of the experience you get on a tablet . . . 10 years from now the print circulation of newspapers . . . the technological advances we’ve had in the past 10 years . . . it’s almost unimaginable.”
This evolution poses the basic question: at what point does a newspaper cease to be a newspaper? Stevenson and Ingrassia emphasised the importance of video, live-blogging and “multimedia packages” to the NYT.