Thursday, February 02, 2006

International Herald Tribune Could Run More U.S. News

Written from the former Portuguese Colony of Goa, India--

It takes a day for the International Herald Tribune, the American paper now owned wholly by the New York Times, to arrive in Goa in South India. The Indian edition is printed in Hyderabad in the center of the country, and it costs 30 rupees, which is about 75 cents. It is one of the best bargains in the newspaper business, no matter what they charge. In Germany, the Herald-Tribune costs 2.10 Euros, which is nearly $2.50.

I like the Herald-Tribune, and always read it when I'm abroad. It is an excellent paper on world affairs, perhaps the best.

But its America coverage is insufficient. Rarely, is there any California news, for example, except of the movie business, which gets good coverage even in the Indian newspapers.

I think the rest of the world would understand America, and its passion for equality, a little better if the Herald Tribune printed more American news. America is important, more than the Herald Tribune editors seem to think it is. No one need be apologetic about the importance and example of America.

The Herald-Tribune has an excellent editorial page, with many sophisticated columnists, and it knows what the story is, day by day, except I wish the Iranian nuclear story would move more rapidly. As appropriate, it is paying lots of attention to it, but nothing really ever happens.

It may be time for a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, although such a dialogue is bound to be slow and filled with obstacles.

The Herald-Tribune has good American sports coverage, and I can even find the Gonzaga basketball scores, which is a blessing. The Australian Open coverage was excellent, but tennis seems to fare fairly well worldwide anyway.

The greatest foreign affairs columnist of all for my money was C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times, who, of course, is long gone. I always remember, however, his great sources, his knowledge of the Middle East and his faith that Charles de Gaulle would one day return to power. When de Gaulle did return, Sulzberger, who lived in Paris, was in the driver's seat, much more than any columnist today, although William Pfaff, who writes in the Herald Tribune, is fairly sound.

Sulzberger was not exciting, usually, but he was sound, and he had what might be called a "giant's" view of world politics, which was that the de Gaulles, the Stalins and the Churchills counted exponentially more than some of the pipsqueaks who normally strut the world's stage.

When a cabal of French rightwing generals thought, for example, that they could push de Gaulle into maintaining an untenable position in Algeria, Sulzberger never doubted who would win, and he was right.

But even de Gaulle was wrong in letting so many Algerian Muslims who had sided with France into the French Republic after the war. France, unlike the U.S., is not a couuntry that assimilates its minorities very well.

The Herald Tribune is based in Paris, but it now publishes in numerous cities, and its distribution is one of its most admirable characteristics. Still, financially, it is said to be in a difficult position.

Eventually, I continue to believe, the big internet firms, Google and Yahoo, must invest in the newspaper business, because newspapers are important and all serious people read them rather than watch television. Google and Yahoo, of course, are California firms, thank goodness, so the days when the biggest California-owned newspaper publisher is McClatchy should be limited. The best solution would be for the L.A Times to be sold to one of the internet giants, although I acknowledge that Yahoo and Google's recent cowtowing to the Chinese government is not a good sign. Their owners must acquire a little more fiber.

The world is a big place I've found in traveling, so far, to 85 countries. But press control must remain, for the planet's good, in a few sophisticated and toughminded hands. More than that, they must be free hands, and not bureaucratic ones, like the rulers of China.

In the meantime, the world is blessed by such institions as the Herald-Tribune, and, I'm also inclined to say, the Roman Catholic Church, although that's a different subject.


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