As the 125-year-old IHT dies, what’s in your media diet?

By Caitlin Kelly

Tonight marks the end of a 125-year-old newspaper, The International Herald Tribune.

Français : International Herald Tribune, rue d...
Français : International Herald Tribune, rue des Graviers, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As of tomorrow, it becomes the International New York Times:

Founded on October 4, 1887, by New York Herald publisher Gordon Bennett, the newspaper aimed to provide American expats living in Paris with news from home, from stock prices to the latest baseball scores.

Under several owners and different names, it became a link to home for the rising number of Americans traveling abroad, suspending publication only once for the Nazi occupation of Paris from 1940 to 1944.

It also became a symbol of US expatriates, with actress Jean Seberg playing an American who sells the paper on the streets of Paris in Jean-Luc Godard’s influential 1960 New Wave film “Breathless.”

It settled on its current name in 1967, after the New York Times and Washington Post took stakes in the paper following the collapse of the New York Herald Tribune.

It expanded globally and is now printed at 38 sites and distributed in more than 160 countries, with a circulation of about 226,000 in 2011.

Few news consumers today even read a newspaper in its printed version and journalists are feeling that pinch; in 2008, 24,000 of us lost our jobs and many of us never found another.

Here’s the NYT’s media columnist David Carr on how narrowly many of us now listen or read:

Data from Pew Research Center for the People and the Press on trends in news consumption released last year suggests people are assembling along separate media streams where they find mostly what they want to hear, and little else.

Fully 78 percent of Sean Hannity’s audience on Fox News identified as conservative, with most of the rest of the audience identifying as moderate and just 5 present as liberal. Over on MSNBC, conservatives make up just 7 percent of Rachel Maddow’s audience.

It isn’t just politicians that are feeding their bases, it is the media outlets, as well. The village common — you know, that place where we all meet to discuss our problems, relying on the same set of facts — has shrunk to the size of a postage stamp, surrounded by the huge gated communities of like minds who never venture into the great beyond. …Another layer of self-reinforcing messages may be having an impact.

As Eli Pariser described in “The Filter Bubble,” search companies rely on algorithms to predict what users want to see based on past clicks, meaning that users are moved farther away from information streams that don’t fit their ideological bent….The skillful custodians of search can produce what Mr. Pariser describes as “personal ecosystems of information.”

To take that one step further, think of your Facebook feed or your Twitter account, if you have either. When you pick people to follow, do you select from all over the map, or mostly from among those whose views
on culture and politics tend to align with your own? Thought so.

I read The New York Times daily; the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times on weekends. I watch almost no television talk shows — I find endless argumentation, punditry, opinionating and spin a waste of my time.

I’d rather (and do) read a really smart, incisive, insightful book — like the three studies of the American economy I recently read: The Price of Inequality by Paul Stiglitz; The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti and The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs.

When I want to try and understand a complex issue, and I often do, I don’t want partisan BS. I want as many useful, quantifiable, objective facts and data points as possible. Yes, I want some analysis and context. But I don’t want a worldview tilted so far to the right or left that I feel misled.

The Rachel Maddow Show (TV series)
The Rachel Maddow Show (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read, and enjoy WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, even though her politics differ from mine. She’s just damn smart.

I sometimes read The Guardian (more to the left than I am), and admire its righteous zeal. I listen to National Public Radio and the BBC (both leaning left, I realize) and sometimes watch BBC News. But only on BBC do I hear “news” about corners of the U.S. long before any mainstream media lumber over.

English: Newspaper Rack outside Newsagents, Po...
English: Newspaper Rack outside Newsagents, Porchester Road Newspapers are available in numerous different languages here. English language papers include USA Today and International Herald Tribune. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What media sources do you rely on for your understanding of the world?

Radio, television, blogs, newspapers (online? in print?), magazines, books?

Do you consume media from beyond your nation’s borders? What and why?

54 thoughts on “As the 125-year-old IHT dies, what’s in your media diet?

  1. I adore the Economist. It’s politics differ from mine but I appreciate it anyway. Their viewpoint which is more or less present in every story is apparent, but not toxic. I feel like it gives real news and depth where I want it. As an extra bonus, it takes time to read it which makes it excellent airplane reading.

      1. themodernidiot

        Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that. I can imagine how frustrating it must be.

        I’m in this class now that is all about the changes digital has had on print; a lot of speculating about whether print will actually die. I think the fragile line of reliability that digital technology walks will keep print alive, if nothing else, as a back up.

        As far as the writers, hopefully the market saturation will fluctuate as it always has for every profession, and soon enough writers will be back in demand. It is difficult to assume that though since everyone can just self publish to the web with a click. However, I think we still have a market for our superstars. I truly believe that the people who desire accuracy and integrity will prevail, and the novelty of crappy journalism like the Puffington Post will move itself into a niche, much like tabloid journalism has. Yeah, it makes lots of cash and has scads of readers, but it’s still shite at the end of the day.

        NYT’s dedication to longform (Snowfall was pretty slick) is noble. I think they’ll be the holdout in the end.

        We had this deputy assistant editor from USA Today come in to lecture abut the biz. He waxed on about the greatness of his paper, and said how innovative they are and how they pride themselves on sourcing and accuracy. I was like, “Whatever dude, you’re still just headline-driven blurb-news. Why don’t you just give up the ghost, and go all-photo?” Yeah, that started a fight. Imagine that. Me? No, never.

        So, back to you (sorry), how can you hustle stories beyond the pale? How tightly bound are you to the NYT?

        You can email me if this is not the proper forum to discuss that kind of stuff.

      1. There is a program on televsion here in Australia called “The Project” which is a fresh take on the news, world/national and also humour to take off the negative sting that comes with so much of the world news. It’s quite good. Sometimes I’ll watch it as it doesnt leave me feeling drained.

        I think Canada is pretty good at also adding positive news.

      2. It’s interesting — you can become bitter and weary of the latest tragedy, or tune it out, or not listen. I gave a class recently on thinking like a reporter — and one of the definitions of “news” is drama and conflict. There is some very hidebound thinking in many newsrooms.

  2. Also… this is something that really disturbs me here. If you were to be burned, stabbed, murdered etc. They would show you and your injuries here on Televsion or even in print. The worst of this is not the imagery…its the accompanying interview with the heartbroken family not even 1 day after the tradgedy.

    It’s very tacky and lacks respect for the victims family…just so the nation can see something awful. It’s really upsetting how casual they are about broadcasting personal tradgedy.

      1. it reminds me of gladiator stadiums. People want gore, horror, shock. It’s not because they care, it’s more that they can’t take their eyes off it, it’s addictive the thrill of seeing something you probably shouldn’t be looking at?

  3. I get most of my news from AOL News, the HuffPost, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I then filter them through the filter of my mind so that they (hopefully) aren’t destroyed by my strange imagination and then from there process them into my understanding of events in the world.
    And as for foreign media…I read a lot of Japanese manga, which counts as a form of media. The only way it informs my world is through giving me ideas for stories.

      1. True. Maybe I should check out NYT sometime.
        By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you, you had a post a while back with a manga on it. I’ve read that manga, which had to do with plastic surgery. Where did you hear of it? I’ve never pegged you for a fan of manga, Caitlin.

      2. I’m a little shocked you never even look at it…or any traditional news source. But that’s my age speaking, probably.

        I don’t read manga at all. I use Zemanta for copyright-free images on my blog and this was the only image that seemed to fit.

      3. Well, it works. The manga Pretty Face used plastic surgery in its first chapter to get the story going. It was one of my favorite mangas when I was young. Thanks for bringing back a favorite childhood memory.

  4. I listen to news talk radio and skim the National Post and Globe and Mail. I never watch the news – I find it repetitive and negative. I follow a number of media outlets, including BBC News, on Twitter and will probably add a few more after reading your post. … When my mother had her opera career in London she would order the IHT weekly and I’d pick it up from the news agent for her every Saturday morning. It was an international news staple in our house when I was growing up.

    1. Have you ever tried the Guardian weekly? Not sure if it still exists — but it was a weekly compendium of Le Monde, the WashPost and Guardian. Loved that mix.

      I feel the Globe is a much worse paper than it once was; we read it occasionally on-line. I was surprised, pleasantly, on our recent Canadian visit at how much Macleans has improved.

      1. That’s true, but that’s hardly equivalent to the partisan ranting and name-calling of right-wing radio. Not that you implied it was, but it’s so often said that those on the right hear only their own views echoed and reinforced by Rush Limbaugh, et al, while we on the left are isolated with the “left-wing” views of NPR. NRP is close to the center of the teeter-totter allowing the far-out right-wingers more leverage.

  5. This is an English version of numerous news sources in Germany. Spiegel Online: also in English. I poke through the NY Times. And for world news on tv I watch Al Jazeera English and CNN World. Watching CNN World is nothing like watching CNN US. But I love me some Rachel Maddow. I think she is quirky and silly. And I love her references to pop culture.

      1. Yesterday’s lunch topic…Govt shutdown. Dominant speakers at the table…Brits. A few Americans chimed in. Interesting read on FoxNews and how it is destroying America. An American then said that he like a certain British commentator and followed it up with ….I know he is very liberal. The Brits started laughing….”that guy is sooo conservative.” I think they even used the word wanker. I brought up this idea that we are getting the news we want, rather than just the news. Very lively…wish you could have been a fly on the wall.

      2. Me, too! I wonder how often media consumers (horrible phrase) stop to really examine the sources of their information or seek out new viewpoints. I sometimes read The Guardian to see how the left thinks. I’m liberal, but usually not quite that far to the left. But I read the WSJ to hear the right.

        At the end of the day, we are still screwed here by a totally useless form of government. It’s appalling.

  6. Like you, I steer clear of tv news. I actually met two guys who run a Fox News talk show and I knew I could never watch their show because I felt like their bickering was overwhelming and irksome…not to mention circular and uninformative.

    My main news source is NPR, but I also read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal (sometimes) and The Guardian online. I also listen to BBC radio and read Le Monde and listen to RadioFrance (to keep my French up). Also PBS when time — but I mostly just go to them for programs that are informative, like Frontline. I also love the feel of a newspaper in my hands, so even though I don’t always read all of them, I like buying them and musing over the pages with a cup of coffee. 🙂

    1. I admire your reading in French. I keep telling myself I’ll do it, but I never do.

      The WSJ weekend review is excellent and we love the weekend FT, esp. their arts and book coverage.

      I think it’s great you’ve got a mix in there. And, like you (unusual for your age!) I prefer to read in print.

      1. It totally breaks my heart to see newspapers suffering. It’s handy to have all this info online, but I genuinely love the tactile nature of reading print. Also it is so much easier on the eyes. But I know that I’m sort of a timeless romantic and printing presses totally fascinate/excite me. 🙂

        Thanks for the recommendations! Will be sure to check out the weekend FT!

      2. LOVE the weekend FT — much more global and sophisticated than anything in the U.S. It is very def. aimed at the 1% of the 1%, though….the magazine is called (!) How to Spend It.

        I agree about reading in print. I like snapping those pages…and getting OFF the bloody computer.

  7. Interesting topic, about how we can choose our to read/hear news based on our leanings. I guess it is easier now than it was because we can filter at the click of a few buttons, but when I was reading the printed page, I was reading NY Times and that leans to the left as you know. Yup. I’m a stereotypical liberal VT’er, listening to NPR/VPR for most news. Some BBC. I can’t even stomach listening to Fox for a second; wish I could for that other viewpoint but I’d rather not become irritated. Oh, and I guess I answered another question mentioning that I “listen”, “watching” news on TV is not part of my life. I can’t stand all the arguing. The fake-stiff-looking newscasters. They all look like puppets to me….The change in how we get our news of course is so tough on those in the industry who have lost jobs, but I think it’s encouraging at least that the trusted writers from trusted brands like NYT’s, New Yorker, WSJ, BBC, NPR, and magazines are still valued, even though there isn’t as much newsprint and paper in the world….I opt for those brands over nameless news compilers. It has been the same for my former industry–I used to work w/traditional catalog retailers and over the past 5 years my mailbox has emptied out, but I know my favorite brands, if they stay true to carve out their niche, most are doing fine on the web and retail w/different types of promotion.

    1. The problem for print journalists is that online work pays pennies; if you have a staff job, you’re set. But the money offered by online sites for quality reporting means many people, like me, recuse ourselves. It’s not worth it.

      The NYT is indeed very liberal, which is one reason I read the WSJ as well. It’s worth seeking out the most reasoned/reasonable arguments from another POV. If we don’t even try to understand one another’s thinking, we’re toast.

  8. another sad media loss. i read the detroit free press, ann arbor journal, sunday nyt, current magazine (local), mental floss, and intelligent optimist, listen to npr and local radio, watch john stewart and local news, and bbc – try to get a variety of views and news. i also enjoy the feel of paper beneath my fingers when reading much more than online news.

  9. Julia

    I didn’t know this news. It makes me very sad. I loved reading the International Herald Tribune, which we called the Herald Trib, and which we bought at the local kiosk, newsstand, but I only read it when I lived or travelled in Europe, and of course then it was the only way to get news, reviews and sports in English. Wow, things have changed, eh?

  10. I am sad to see the IHT go, for all of the reasons already mentioned above. “International New York Times” just sounds a bit like cultural imperialism to me. To your question–like a lot of your readers, I seem to have to go abroad to get decent coverage of global and sometimes (bloodless) American news. BBC and the Times of London cover this for me. You mentioned a trip to Germany–you ought to look at Deutsche-Welle. They cover a lot of continental news well, in English as well as German. I do worry that most news consumers just practice confirmation bias, and find the news that leaves them unchallenged. That is why I always push my partisan family members to read “across the aisle.” If they are republicans–I hand them Mother Jones. Democrats? They should read National Review from time to time. Otherwise, they stop learning. They don’t have to agree with those journalists, but they should try to see the perspective of the other side, in their words.

    1. Sadly, my German trip fell through — but I am determined to get there. Oddly enough, one of the readers of this blog is a young Irish woman who translates (I think) at Deutsche Welle.

      I agree that it’s useful (if not necessary) to read “across the aisle.” Sadly, I think people now simply cover their ears and shout lalalalalalalala. Not exactly sophisticated.

  11. Julia

    I loved your reference to Jean Seberg in Breathless. Of course, those days have nothing to do with these days. Myself, I would rather read a newspaper or magazine or book or watch a movie or listen to the radio, than watch TV. In Canada, we have CBC the national broadcaster, in radio and television, and the news and feature journalism is very credible still. I have one mag subscription of longstanding: The New Yorker. We used to get the Economist for many years, but it has lapsed. I also listen to podcasts, many of them produced around the world by national broadcasters BBC, ABC, NPR etc and by independent producers. Check out the Third Coast Festival from WBEZ Chicago. They feature the best of the best in International radio stories.

  12. I get the Sunday Times, sometimes we read the Guardian or the Telegraph, depending on a story. I browse a lot of various websites, not one specific, I link surf following stories that interest me. The and its international news. Like you, we (my wife) read a lot of factual books for more in depth information. The only news show of sorts I watch is the Breakfast BBC. to skim whats happening while I eat my breakfast. I hate the slants you see or the conflict rather than the questions and follow up. I want to phone in and tell them, ask the next question, the one that follows the answer they gave. Frustrating, so I gave up. Andrew Marr tends to be quite good on a Sunday Morning, now that he is back after his stroke I hope he will continue.


    1. You have exactly the same problem with “news” as I do…tremendous lack of follow-up. It’s lazy and weird, as why draw a lot of attention to a person or issue then have it simply disappear from view when the Next Big Story pops up? Much media coverage treats as if we were tiny babies who have no attention span or memory of what we’ve seen and heard.

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