RSI STAFF CASE STUDY

International Herald Tribune

Finding a new direction in an era of change and risk

Case Study Clients: The New York Times, New York, NY, U.S.A. / The Washington Post, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Listing of the client in no way affirms the client's support, sponsorship, or validation in any form of Risk Sciences International or the RSI staff member(s) who conducted this project during their stay with RSI or prior to joining the company. This case study is displayed for informative purposes only to demonstrate the capacity of RSI staff members. This case study reveals no proprietary information or information deemed sensitive.

Mandate

The original mandate called for Cemil Alyanak, now RSI Vice-President, Communications and Strategic Initiatives, to find a new direction for the world renowned International Herald Tribune just as both the World Wide Web was in its infancy, and the newspaper faced increased competition from international and regional editions of established newspapers and magazines such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times.

Beyond a commercial reason for wanting this analysis, then Publisher Lee Huebner was interested in making the International Herald Tribune into more than just a newspaper. The goal was to elevate the IHT to becoming an instrument for evidence-based communication. Under the supervision of Juanita Caspari and John Vinocur, the goal was to establish the IHT as the ultimate source of factual information devoid of any agenda or bias.

Work

The work involved a very extensive competitive analysis of all other media and an in-depth report on the current state of the World Wide Web. This investigative work required extensive business intelligence work along with interviews of current and past competitive staff.

The next step was to turn inwards to better understand the capabilities of the IHT. What were its existing resources, both human and financial? Also, how would the paper’s ownership affect its direction. At the time, though based in Paris, France, the newspaper was co-owned by The New York Times and The Washington Post and there was talk of a possible change.

Most important of all was a perception analysis of the readerships — both IHT readers and non-IHT readers who preferred the competition. Over a three month period, over 250 readers answered questionnaires and were interviewed in person.

The product of the work was a 400-page report, an in-person presentation in Paris, and an additional contract to further explore several facets of the findings.

Outcomes

While many of the report’s recommendations were implemented, the newspaper ultimately did undergo a change of ownership with The New York Times, under Arthur Ochs Sulzburger Jr., buying out The Washington Post’s share. The newspaper went on to become the International New York Times. It has been said that well over half of the recommendations made in the report were either taken into consideration or implemented.

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