New lease of life for Herald newspaper

Ernest Hemingway, author, exile and enfant terrible, fully understood the life-enhancing, horizon-broadening significance of Paris and its transplanted New York-owned newspaper, the English-language Herald.

In Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, the first thing the autobiographical hero, Jake Barnes, does on his return to France from Spain is buy the Herald, as today's International Herald Tribune was then known, and read it in a café with a glass of wine.

Whether Hemingway intended it or not, Barnes struck a contagiously cosmopolitan pose that proved irresistibly attractive to the many would-be emulators who subsequently made the journey across the Atlantic.

For generations of Americans travelling to Europe before, during and after the two World Wars, swapping the competitive, tight-laced rigours of the materialist, capitalist, God-fearing United States for the sophisticated languor, loucheness and chic of the French capital, the Herald reported, reflected and symbolised the quintessential experience of embracing foreignness and specifically Frenchness. It provided a link with home while reminding the expatriate of his or her daring plunge into the unknown, slightly dangerous culture of the Old World.

A special supplement of the International Herald Tribune was published this past week to mark its last day under that name.

It is now the International New York Times, reflecting its present ownership and, presumably, the New York title's desire to project itself as a more recognisable global brand.

The supplement unearths old pieces, historic reports and front pages, all published since the Herald opened for business in Paris in 1887 under the auspices of James Gordon Bennett, owner of the New York Herald.

Like newspapers in the digital age, the transplanted paper was made possible by technological advances, including more efficient printing methods and improved communications stemming from the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cables in 1858.

At the same time, according to Charles Robertson, author of a history of the paper, new audiences were being created by the rapid development of steamship travel and the advent of a new class of wealthy Americans eager to discover the Europe of their forebears.

In an editorial, the Tribune's Serge Schmemann says the rebranded paper will remain vital and relevant because "we still need trusted reporters and editors to sort out the vast waves of information sweeping this chaotic world of ours".

Eye-catching photographs include one of Andy Warhol sitting in Venice in 1977 reading the "Trib" — an unwitting tribute to Breathless, the 1960 film by Jean-Luc Godard that features an American student who takes a job selling the paper on the streets of Paris.

In 1931, but it could be 2013, Walter Lippmann discusses Gandhi's doctrine of nonviolence and deplores the way Americans, "who want peace but no responsibility", have abandoned a global peacemaking role. — © Guardian News & Media 2013

Simon Tisdall is an assistant editor and columnist at the Guardian 

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Simon Tisdall
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