Readers Lament 'International Herald Tribune' Name Change

Starting Tuesday, American expats throughout Europe will pick up their The International Herald Tribune to discover it has been renamed, The International New York Times. Many longtime readers say they'll feel a great loss.

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The International Herald Tribune is about to change its name. In these difficult days for print journalism, fans of the Paris-based English newspaper are grateful that it's still being published. But the change is prompting a good bit of nostalgia.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris explains why.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The sliding glass doors at the International Herald Tribune's Paris office are already emblazoned with the newspaper's new title: The International New York Times. Europe editor Richard Stevenson explains why the 126-year-old paper is changing its name.

RICHARD STEVENSON: Frankly, because we believe that the future is digital and we need to have a single digital brand name. And right now having an International Herald Tribune name on our print paper is a little bit confusing and kind of dilutes the impact of The New York Times name around world.

BEARDSLEY: Stevenson says with The New York Times name, the paper hopes to pick up paying subscribers outside the U.S. for its website. But longtime readers of what is fondly referred to as the Trib, or The IHT, can't help but feel nostalgic. Writer Ward Just says he's been coming to France for 30 years, and the paper was always a welcoming friend.

WARD JUST: You know, the look of it, the different op-ed stuff. Much, you know, European slant of the paper, because after all, there it sits in Paris. It's a little bit like the death of an old friend. You know?

BEARDSLEY: The International Herald Tribune was founded in 1887 as the European edition of the New York Herald. The paper's readers have included turn of the century elites living in Paris, World War I Doughboys, Jazz Age American expats, and well-educated travelers. Today the Trib is printed at 38 sites around the world and sold in more than 135 countries.

Charles Trueheart was Paris correspondent for The Washington Post in the 1990s during the three decades when The Post and The New York Times jointly owned the Herald Tribune. Today Trueheart is director of the American Library in Paris.

CHARLES TRUEHEART: Certainly the Herald Tribune of the 1950s, the classic Herald Tribune of memory and nostalgia and myth, was really a local newspaper that saw the whole world through the eyes of the expatriate village that was Paris.

BEARDSLEY: Trueheart points to the late Herald Tribune humorist Art Buchwald.

TRUEHEART: If you go back and read the columns he was writing in the '50s, in his youth in the heyday, it's as though all the readers are right here in Paris.

BEARDSLEY: Here's an old recording of Buchwald reading from his classic column, the Six-Minute Louvre.

ART BUCHWALD: As you know, there are only three things worth seeing in the Louvre museum. That's the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. And the rest of the stuff is all junk.

(LAUGHTER)

BEARDSLEY: A staple at every Paris news kiosk, the Herald Tribune has even worked its way into French popular culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BREATHLESS")

JEAN SEBERG: (as Patricia) New York Herald Tribune.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (French spoken)

SEBERG: (as Patricia) (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: Jean Luc Godard's 1960 classic "A Bout de Souffle," or "Breathless," featured a fresh-faced Jean Seberg hawking the paper on the Champs Elysees.

Walter Wells was executive editor just after The New York Times bought out The Post to become the sole owner of the Herald Tribune in 2003.

WALTER WELLS: We rebuilt the paper and we added space that had been taken out. And we added staff that had been cut. We had color printing all around the world and all kinds of things. It was a very, very exciting time.

BEARDSLEY: But in the digital age the Herald Tribune struggled. Wells says he's surprised it took The Times this long to rename the paper. American Library director Charles Trueheart says sentimentality aside, he's grateful The Times still chooses to publish an international edition at all.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

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