Extra, extra, extra!
Fasten your seat belts.
I have amazing news for you.
This morning, I had a telephone call from a young reporter from The New York Times.
She said that they were working on a story about the new masthead of the International Herald Tribune.
“I read your comments in your blog and I would like to ask you some questions,” she said.
“Well, what do you want to know?” I said.
“Just, why do you hate the new masthead so much?”
Wait a minute, dear, I don’t have problems with mastheads …
What’s more, readers are blind to them.
But do a redesign as a consultant and you will find that the owners, the CEO, the publisher and the editors will spend 80% of their time with you discussing — the masthead!
All the time.
What really matters to readers, and journalists, I suppose, is what goes inside the paper …
Not the neon signs outside.
And the same is happening here.
You have a paper (as all of you know, the IHT is owned by the NYT) that is in crisis.
In a big crisis.
For many years.
Losing market share …
And what your bosses do?
Play with the masthead, killing the old logo …
Is this the solution for these dramatic problems?
Is this part of a smart editorial or business strategy for the future?
Not at all.
And this is my point: the logo question is a distraction.
A silly thing.
Like moving the chairs on a sinking Titanic.
Something irrelevant when you need to confront big challenges in a newspaper like the IHT whose time is gone because the Internet is killing all these international editions from last century.
They don’t make sense anymore…
The New York Times reporter was silent, so… I went on and on for more than 30 minutes.
Then, in a very soft voice, she said to me very nicely:
“Did you see the American flag in the old logo?”
“What American flag are you talking about?” I asked her.
“The American flag that was in the old logo … do you think that without the flag the paper will be more accepted in places that hate us today?”
(Now is the time for you, my dear reader, to scroll to the top of this post and see the old masthead and look at the details of the old logo, because I am 100 percent sure that you never paid any attention to, yes, the American flag!).
“Look,” I said to the reporter, “This is getting worse: I didn’t realize that there was an American flag there, so one minute, let me check …”
“Oh yes, holy shit!”
“So, you are killing the logo for this reason?”
Well, as you can see, I said readers are blind to logos …
But we are mentally sound enough to realize that your bosses are insane.
If they think that the American flag is the problem to their circulation crisis … these guys must be fired.
On the spot.
And shame on them!
I don’t know if the story is ever going to be published.
She said that she was going to send me a message by e-mail and I have not received any more news from her …
Yes, I know. This has not been a very good day for Journalism 101.
I started this morning with a front-page fiasco around the world … then things improved when I found the Al Neuharth article about the crisis of the U.S. newspaper industry … and now before I go to sleep, I have to tell you this amazing story.
What a day!
Well tomorrow, before I leave for Sweden to speak at the World Newspaper Congress and the World Editors Forum, I am going to have lunch in New York with Jeff Jarvis.
So be ready for more depressing news about the state of our industry because Jeff is a media fighter.
A really good one!