Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1240 The Trib

“Do not believe what any newspaper writes about another” -- Anon.

“Do not believe what any newspaper writes about itself.” -- Wessays™
The New York Herald Tribune did more with less than a sunfish in a shark costume.

But the New York Trib is long gone though its artwork -- The Dingbat -- has lingered atop the International Herald Trib for decades.  As of now, the IHT is dead, but the paper isn’t. They’ve started calling it the International New York Times.

The original Trib was no stranger to mergers, and the IHT fit right in. In its last days, the New York original was a combination of combinations of seven papers: The Herald, the Tribune, the World, the Telegram, the Sun, the Journal and the American.

When the World Journal Tribune, as it was called, died, the IHT ownership was split into thirds, Whitney Communications, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

Whitney sold its interest to the Times, and eventually so did the Post.

Unlike the Times, the real Trib was a writer’s newspaper.  And it was always running behind.  For all of its old school Republican dignity, it was a rag tag operation, filled with great characters from copy boys (yes, even the few girls were “boys”) to reporters to editors.  

It was not just the Times plus comic pages.  The physical paper reeked of “class” but behind the scenes, its little building at 230 West 41st street was a mostly Irish saloon.

The Herald and the Tribune combined in the 1920s and died in 1966.  John Hay Whitney had acquired it in 1958 (remember when rich Republicans considered purchases like this a public duty?)  The paper’s death slide of that moment went into remission, but not for long.

Does the name change now make any difference?  Not really.  The IHT was independent only between its founding in 1887 as the Paris Tribune and 1924.  After that, it was a “best of” newspaper with at least half of its items pickups from the parent Trib, though it maintained its own bureaus around the world.

Eventually it became the “best of” the Post and the Times… and lately just the Times.

So the Times is making a big deal over what a great paper it was and is. And it is.  But salesmanship and branding  trumps nostalgia and history, so now the “T” initial stands for “Times.”

Nothing much will change for now.  It’s all part of the Sulzberger family’s drive to clothe everything it owns in that Times name and sell everything that can’t wear it.

Probably by now, its reporters and editors work in air conditioning, sorely lacking from the original building in Paris and the squat fortress on 41st.

Computers have long since replaced typewriters and modern printing has long replaced the various earlier presses.

The men don’t have to wear ties now, and the women can wear pants.

So the Times has put out reams of old IHT articles and pictures and they’re available on its website.  But you’d better believe its accompanying descriptive stories are sanitized and spun.  Because you can’t believe what a newspaper writes about itself.

For most of its readers, none of this means much.  For those of us in the news business, it’s just another nail in journalism’s coffin.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2013

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