If you speak with a more cautious type, he might remind you that you shouldn’t publish anything on the Web you wouldn’t show your mother (happy pre-Mother’s Day, by the way) — you know, because once you hit “publish,” it’s “out there” forever.
Well, sure, that’s true. Kinta*. But there are plenty of cases where that’s not true. Like the case of the International Herald Tribune, of which the New York Times Company has been the sole owner since 2003.
About a month ago, IHT’s owners decided to merge the paper’s online presence with that of the corporate mothership, nytimes.com. In creating the new site, global.nytimes.com, the Times didn’t actually merge anything, according to Thomas Crampton, formerly a reporter at both newspapers, now a director in the Asia-Pacific arm of ad and PR giant Ogilvy.
Instead, the company erased any digital trace of IHT’s entire body of work — something that quite troubles Crampton, as well as many a search-engine optimizer, Web strategist, media industry consultant and Regular Joe Reader, I’m sure.
Writes Crampton in an open letter to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger (emphasis mine):
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that deleting the entire online presence of a major international newspaper is not a notable stop on the path to a winning business model. Not only did the Times Company destroy what was likely the most accessible, visible version of IHT’s product, but it also left countless holes in the Internet. The stories have died.
Links to IHT articles (like the one found on this page; click the headline) that predate the “merger” point to nothingness. Not an archived version of the page, no — that’d be too logical. Yes, that page of NY Times-branded nothingness claims the folks there are busy with the process of moving the archives, but that won’t fix the links nor restore the Google Page Rank magic that comes with them.
I think someone at the Times misunderstood the people pushing them to imagine what the future of a newspaper could be. We didn’t mean for you to erase the past.
* “Kinta” is a interesting looking mixture of “kinda” and “sorta,” which I find fun. As for why I wrote that non-word — and why I was compelled to include the handful of parenthetical asides and this lovely little asterisked footnote, I can explain: As I write this, I’m nearly finished reading my first Updike novel, A Month of Sundays (picked it up for one single dollar at a used book sale, and its aged tree pulp smells far nicer than a Kindle), which is loaded with winding sentences, thoughts that are sequestered by parentheses — or dashed off like so — and these oh-so-rare-in-novel asteriskers. And he does a lot of these “slip of the tongue”-in-print tricks like my “kinta.” So I’m feeling quite the literary influence right now.
Photo courtesy of Ed Kohler on Flickr