Farewell Herald Tribune

by Steve

Today saw the publication of the last ever edition of the International Herald Tribune. The newspaper has been in print for 126 years. It is not going out of business, it is being renamed the International New York Times, to reflect its current owners. And as those owners are keen to stress, the paper has been renamed several times across its history, it was the Paris Herald, the Paris Herald Tribune, then the International Herald Tribune.

Sentimental old fools such as me will miss the ‘Herald’ and indeed the ‘Tribune’. There is a certain romance about the paper. Hemingway mentions it in The Sun Also Rises. As you can see in the clip above, it plays a minor role in À bout de souffle. As the main English-language newspaper available outside English-speaking countries the newspaper is associated with shared cultural memories of the expatriate community (including Mr Hemingway) in Paris after the Great War, with ambassadors in exotic countries wanting dispatches from the homeland and with general ideas around travel and adventure and all that fun stuff.

My memories of the International Herald Tribune are far more prosaic. After picking it up a few times I took out one of their free two-week subscriptions and enjoyed a fortnight of having a paper on my doorstep each morning. I’d always wanted a newspaper subscription but couldn’t run to one, so I loved it. I’ve then picked it up a few times a month ever since, usually on Mondays as they seem to have the best features and columns and it helps brighten up the worst day of the week. Apart from that I’ve read it on a few European trips, but that is as romantic/exotic as my patronage has got – swiping a copy from a faceless hotel lobby is not quite the Lost Generation reading the paper over aperitifs in the 1920s.

I hope the relaunched paper keeps the feel of the IHT. What I really value in the newspaper is the international perspective. Rather than get bogged down in parochial stories it seems like it gives a genuine overview of the most important world stories – those that will become history, rather than those that will become footnotes to that history, or will just become trivia. It also seems far more impartial that British newspapers. I also quite like the clumsiness of the broadsheet format.

If the name change leads to more readers, and a more secure newspaper, then I’m all for it. If the name change means a very different newspaper, then I shall wait and see. I do like the New York Times, and I don’t mind reading my news from a vaguely American perspective, but I hope the International part isn’t forgotten either.