The New York Times announced today that it is closing its fabled Paris editorial operations and moving the work to New York and Hong Kong – a cost-cutting move at a time when newspapers and digital media have been aggressively scaling back..
In addition to the impact on Times employees – as many as 70 jobs will be cut or relocated – the move signals the end of an era -- one tied to the history and glamour of the old International Herald Tribune, the predecessor of the current New York Times International Edition. As the Times noted in its own news story about the move:
The roots of the paper’s Paris operation go back to 1887, when the European edition of The New York Herald was established. It has been published continuously since then, except for the four years of the German occupation of Paris in World War II.
Today’s news could be just the start of a new round of aggressive staff cuts at the Times. The New York Post -- no friend of its crosstown rival -- reported over the weekend that the Times “plans to cut hundreds of jobs later this year.” (Times leadership challenged the report -- but the Post story was right in saying that the Times was considering a "radical downsizing or closure of its Paris office.")
The Times has been laying staff off on a fairly steady basis since the start of the Great Recession, which pummeled an already-weakened newspaper industry. But the loss of the Paris operations is a blow of a different sort – the end of a romantic era in international journalism.
That romance was embodied for many in the scene in the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard film Breathless, where Jean Seberg sold copies of the International Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris:
As Leah Finnegan – a former Gawker writer, now managing editor for @Genius -- tweeted: “Jean Seberg dreams dead.”