Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ode to the Paris Herald

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ode to the Paris Herald

Article excerpt

It was inevitable that The New York Times would do away with the International Herald Tribune, successor to the Paris Herald Tribune, of which it became part owner in 1966. After all, the New York Herald Tribune was the Times' hated competitor for decades, both at home and abroad. The Times, which eliminated The Washington Post from Herald Tribune ownership 10 years ago, says the name change has something to do with "digital subscribers," who will be better served by what is now called the International New York Times.

Are digital subscribers really so obtuse? Why didn't Rupert Murdoch change the names of the Times of London, New York Post or Wall Street Journal into News Corp. or Fox News when he bought them to satisfy his digital subscribers? In these perilous newspaper times, it makes sense to respect the names that connect us to the origins of great journalism, names that for decades, even centuries, have been instantly identifiable.

I have nothing against the New York Times. It is a great newspaper. So was the New York Herald Tribune, which had one of the great journalistic staffs of all time. But the Times and Herald Tribune were always separate and distinct and deserved to remain so. The Times beat the Herald Tribune in New York, but the Herald Tribune was the better paper in Paris, where it existed for 126 years compared to the Times' six.

The Times has treated Herald Tribune's legacy as the communists do photos: Don't like Leon Trotsky standing beside Stalin or Liu Shaoqi beside Mao? Erase them; Kim Jong-un turns against his uncle? Air brush uncle out. Alter history.

Any American traveling in Paris in the late 19th or early 20th centuries came across the Paris Herald at one time or another. It was available in the same kiosks on the Champs Elysees and along the Seine as the latest article in L'Aurore by Emile Zola or the newest installment by Marcel Proust in his never ending search for lost time. The Paris Herald, founded in 1887, belonged to Paris as much as Zola or Proust.

In the 1920s--that brief, giddy, Lost Generation interlude between world war catastrophes--Americans began to find the Herald not just in Paris but across Europe as well. The Herald was the one way, the only way, to stay in touch with things American. …

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