Goodbye International Herald Tribune of “Breathless” movie fame and bonjour “International New York Times.” A famous global print and online newspaper has been renamed, rebranded and reorganized.
In an oped column last month in the New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen wrote a piece headlined “Adieu IHT, Bonjour INYT.” He was trying to explain to readers how the renamed “International New York Times” (INYT) was once the iconic “International Herald Tribune” (IHT) – and before that the “New York Herald Tribune.”
In an old 1960 black-and-movie from France titled “Breathless,” the actress Jean Seberg gained international fame for her role hawking the English-language newspaper on the streets of Paris in the great long ago before print newspapers were called snailpapers and when expats like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein made Paris their home.
As columnist Cohen says of the romance of those days, real or imagined, “The Trib was a paper made for the world in the French capital by Americans, a trans-Atlantic hybrid that flattered Parisians, made them feel more important.”
Cohen goes on: “The Trib was sexy. It got to the point while French newspapers meandered like the Seine through Normandy. American journalists knew how to find the facts and tell a story without frills. If anyone doubted a newspaper could be sexy, all they had to do was watch the pert Jean Seberg, wearing a Herald Tribune t-shirt, hawking the paper (then called The New York Herald Tribune) in Jean-Luc Godard’s [movie].”
Now the paper, owned by the New York Times flagship company, has morphed into being a daily English-language newspaper for a global audience, beyond Paris and Cannes. By rebranding it as the “INYT” the corporate offices have taken a gamble that the Times name can help propel the paper into a new phase and capture a global readership of expats, travellers and businesspeople on the go in capital around the world.
I found a copy of the new INYT the other day at a posh hotel in Taipei, and I eagerly read it through in the lobby. It looks great, it reads great, it’s got the bylines of top Times reporters in New York and overseas, and the production quality is superb. A real print newspaper that calls out “read me.” (The online website is not bad, either, and it’s free so far.)
What was the point of rebranding and renaming an iconic newspaper from the past? I assume the Times people in New York hope to turn the INYT into a profitable enterprise, attracting well-heeled readers from a host of countries who like to get their news in English now. Top-notch advertisers now have a new global audience to reach out and touch as well.
For me, while the new front page of the INYT looks great and global print newspapering to a new level, I will always think of the old Trib as the iconic paper that a pretty French actress was hawking in an old French movie that I saw on a number of occasions during my college days, before there was an Internet, or Netflix, or HBO or Twitter.
So “au revoir” IHT and welcome to the fold, INYT — no pun intended — “bonjour” and “bonne chance.” In a world where snailpapers are losing out to the speed and push of online news sites, it’s going to be a “battle royale.”
The French title of the movie “Breathless” was “A bout de souffle,” which if my college French is still working means something like “out of breath” or “at breath’s end”). Is print journalism at breath’s end? Is print journalism getting more and more “out of breath”?
“On va voir” — which my online translation machine readers as “we shall see”.