Paris: In a bid to expand their global reach and deepen their appeal to advertisers, New York Times Co. is developing plans to merge the website of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) with that of The New York Times (NYT).
In a wide-ranging announcement on Monday, top executives of both newspapers said they intended to create a “co-branded international homepage” that would replace www.iht.com, the existing website of the International Herald Tribune.
New York Times Co. acquired full control of the Herald Tribune in 2003, and has been accelerating the integration of the two papers in recent months. “We want to examine the potential to merge IHT.com with nytimes.com,” said Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, publisher of the Herald Tribune.
“We believe that it will provide us with much more scale and will expose our journalism to a much larger audience. In terms of driving revenues from advertising, it will be a much more powerful proposition.”
Dunbar-Johnson and Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, cast the merger as a proposal at this stage, until the Paris-based IHT’s works council was consulted, in accordance with French law. But discussions on a merger have been underway for months, along with work on a new design for the print version of the Herald Tribune.
Keller said the core of loyal followers of the Herald Tribune website was small compared with the number of users arriving at the site through search engines and other links.
While IHT.com draws seven million visitors a month, NYTimes.com has a global audience of 58 million, according to WebTrends, which tracks Internet traffic.
Keller said a sizable portion of the NYTimes.com audience was international, although the news organization has not advertised NYTimes.com outside the US or created sections aimed at international readers.
Designers are preparing a new digital architecture for the Herald Tribune, with six to seven international sections.
One possibility, executives said, is that the international edition of NYTimes.com will carry both the Herald Tribune and New York Times brands, with readers arriving there by clicking on addresses for either IHT.com or NYTimes.com.
“We need to be agile,” Dunbar-Johnson said, pledging “to compete much more aggressively, nose to nose, with the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and anybody else who is competing for our readers and advertisers.”
WSJ has an exclusive content partnership in India with Mint.
©2008/THE NEW YORK TIMES