“Dapper Dunbar-Johnson” and the new IHT
Apr 8, 2009
UPDATE: Someone just created a Facebook group called “Keep the IHT: Just say no to NYT “Global Edition”.
Pegged to the launch of the new International Herald Tribune layout and website, Benjamin Li of Hong Kong-based Media magazine published a profile of the IHT’s publisher, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson.
The IHT, my former long-time employer, recently revamped the website and redesigned the print edition.
Not surprisingly, “Dapper Dunbar-Johnson”, as they call Stephen, speaks highly positively about the changes:
“From our point of view,it gives us an advantage to merge online rather than remain independent, as it’s about getting scale and marrying that scale with the technology of nytimes.com,”says Dunbar-Johnson. “The combination also provides advertisers with a much more significant global scale and regional targeting demographic profiles.”
(Apologies for not posting a link to the story, but Benjamin said his publication has not – and may never – put the story online. Not a policy I understand.) The story is now available here.
Word on the street?
Among the many longtime IHT readers I have spoken with, many complain that falling print circulation makes a redesign of the paper edition equivalent to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. As for the Web integration with The New York Times website, there are complaints that the IHT is losing its identity.
The NY Times web integration is, to me, a great thing. Instead of a small web team in Paris cobbling together a site with too few resources, the IHT journalists can now work within the larger NY Times webiverse.
Led by Jonathan Landman (an editor for whom many reporters would walk through fire) the web team is ambitious, creative and pushing every boundary they can.
Moreover, one of the great strengths of the web is following links as you get interested in a story. By placing the NYT and IHT on the same platform there will definitely be more crossover. If I were still a reporter for the IHT, I would rejoice in the increased potential audience for my stories and new ways to use the web platform for storytelling.
As for the newspaper redesign, I think it looks fine. Readers ALWAYS complain about redesigns, even when they buy more papers as a result of changes. This is particularly true of the IHT readership, many of whom have an extremely tight emotional bond to the publication.
The NY Times wants to have a more clear global brand, with the IHT converging in style. I do not think the IHT would be a viable standalone product without the NY Times, so integration is inevitable.
I do have 2 complaints:
1- I mourn the loss of the IHT’s Dingbat (that strange object inserted above). It was distinctive and a great link back to the newspaper’s founder, James Gordon Bennett Jr. A truly remarkable man, for whose newspaper I was proud to write. In a similar vein, loss of the familiar and distinctive yellow corporate color is sad, but I presume that the NY Times’ blue has won the battle.
2- I am not a fan of extending the gothic typeface to include International. For me the contrast between the clean International vs gothic Herald Tribune emphasized the publication’s global scope. You can see the difference above (Yes, IHT junkies, I know that the old logo above is actually very old.)
What you think: Thumbs up or thumbs down?