Associate editor Mary J. Loftus visited five Emory alumni in the City of Light last summer. Her interview with Michael Golden ’84MBA, publisher of the International Herald Tribune, anchors our special section, Emory in Paris. The following links will bring you to stories about fellow alumni Syed Hoda ’96MBA, Marilyn Kaye ’71C-’74G, Marcio Mendes ’98B, and Ronnie Rubin ’76C.
Golden Opportunity

A scion of the New York Times family wants to make the International Herald Tribune required reading worldwide

Just outside the Paris headquarters of the International Herald Tribune, at 6 bis rue des Graviers, the day’s paper is displayed behind glass so passersby can read the top news stories.

On this humid morning in late July, the Herald Tribune’s front page is a reader-friendly mix of politics, business news, and current events. Headlines read: “In Europe, passionate cheering for Kerry”; “Google is bullish on its own worth”; “Russians take aim at imitators of the AK-47.” Datelines pepper the pages from London, Mexico City, Cairo, Berlin, and Moscow.

Inside, publisher Michael Golden ’84MBA (left) strides through the first-floor newsroom, where editors and reporters are busily transcribing notes and reading wire copy. A vice president of The New York Times Company and a member of the family that controls the newspaper, Golden was named publisher of the International Herald Tribune in November 2003 and was charged with revitalizing the century-old paper, which bills itself as “The World’s Daily Newspaper.” Though distributed in 185 countries, it had been losing money for several years.

“A paper has to be a financial success in order to survive,” says Golden. “There’s no such thing as a successful, nonprofitable newspaper.”

Golden, fifty-five, has worked in management positions at The New York Times Company for the past twenty years, largely in the company’s magazine group, serving as production manager of Family Circle and publisher of McCall’s and Tennis magazines. He became vice chairman and senior vice president of The New York Times Company in 1997.

Upon being named publisher of the International Herald Tribune, Golden and his wife, Anne, moved from New York City into a furnished Left Bank apartment in the Sixth Arrondissement. He has spent the months since working to make the International Herald Tribune required reading around the globe.

Although the Herald Tribune is competing with the likes of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, Golden doesn’t intend it to become strictly a business publication. Indeed, the Herald Tribune offers plenty of lighter, brighter fare: this day’s style section is anchored by an article on “demure swimsuits” coming back into fashion, accompanied by photos of high-fashion models in retro tanks, and the culture pages mix movie and book reviews with tidbits of Hollywood gossip. Even the grey listings of stock quotes from the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and other world markets are capped off by a half-dozen American comic strips, from “Dilbert” to “Doonesbury.”

“We want to be a ‘must-read’ as well as a ‘want-to-read’ paper in the office and at home,” Golden says. “We’re of interest to people who want to gain the broader business perspective, which includes politics, economics, cultural trends, and fashion.”

Golden, who has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and an MBA degree from Emory, has the demeanor of a confident newsman who is comfortable with all sides of the business. As well he should: he was born into a family with newspaper ink coursing through its veins. His great-grandfather, Adolph S. Ochs, the son of poor German-Jewish immigrants, bought the Chattanooga Times in 1878 and the New York Times eighteen years later. Golden’s grandfather, Arthur Hays Sulzberger (Ochs’ son-in-law), was the publisher of the New York Times from 1935 to 1961. His mother, Ruth Sulzberger Golden Holmberg, was the publisher and chair of the Chattanooga Times for almost thirty years.

The sense of the Times as a family enterprise persists: fourth-generation descendants, Golden among them, own a large portion of New York Times Company stock, control the board of directors, and set policies on everything from making charitable donations to involving the next generation.

“The company has been a real point of cohesion for us,” says Golden. “We realize the reason the family is still together into the sixth generation, who are really just babies at this point, is because of the business.”

Shortly after Ochs bought the New York Times in 1896, he established the paper’s slogan, “All The News That’s Fit To Print,” as a jibe to competing papers known for yellow journalism. The paper had gained such popularity by 1904 that when it relocated to a new office on Forty-second Street, the area was named Times Square. A century later, The New York Times Company is a publicly traded multimedia conglomerate with annual revenues of $3.2 billion. Among its marquee holdings are the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the Boston Globe, as well as sixteen other newspapers, eight network-affiliated television stations, two New York City radio stations, and more than forty Web sites, including and

Until recently, the International Herald Tribune had been owned in a 50-50 partnership by the New York Times and the Washington Post–two competitive family dynasties sharing an unlikely joint venture. In 2002, according to an article in the Post’s financial section, the Times Company “forcefully maneuvered” the Washington Post Company into selling its half of the paper for $65 million, “leaving Post company executives bitter.”

“It was more contentious than a business deal,” Golden admits. “You could characterize it as a divorce. But we were absolutely convinced that dual ownership wasn’t working. Instead of two owners, there was no owner.”

In the seven years since Golden’s first cousin, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., took over as publisher of the New York Times from his father, the company has aggressively expanded the New York Times brand across various media, from the Internet to television stations. The purchase of the International Herald Tribune and the placement of Golden at the helm were intended to expand the company’s influence across continents.

“The New York Times had become a national newspaper,” Golden says, “so we started turning our attention toward a global-international newspaper.”

“Michael has a deep and rich understanding of the newspaper industry in general and The New York Times Company in particular,” Sulzberger said when announcing the appointment in 2003. “I am confident [he and his team] will bring the paper’s quality journalism to an even larger global audience.”

Golden, for his part, was eager to take up the challenge. He speaks French, having spent a few years teaching English at the Franco-American Institute in Rennes, where he lived with Anne after receiving his bachelor’s and master’s in education from Lehigh University in 1974.

“When Michael first told me of his new job opportunity, it was, obviously, a complete surprise. And a bit of a shock. We were leading a very comfortable life in New York,” says Anne Golden, who met Golden in college and married him in 1971. “But my very first reaction to the question, ‘How would you like to live in Paris?’ was basically an immediate and unqualified ‘yes.’ ”

They talked at length about the pros and cons over dinner that night, but with both their daughters grown–twenty-eight-year-old Margot is a student at Arizona State University in Tempe, and twenty-five-year-old Rachel is a marketing coordinator at the Denver Newspaper Agency–there was little hesitation.

“We knew,” says Anne Golden, “that this would be a fascinating adventure.”

She firmly believes her husband is the right man for the job. “Michael is a very good listener and he likes looking at the big picture. He is really good at synthesizing other people’s opinions and making sense of long conversations or meetings. He understands the need for compromise and is quite good at recognizing people’s strengths.”

Golden, who, like many executives, relies on knowing when to delegate and to whom, says many of the skills he learned in Emory’s executive MBA program have proven essential.

“Having that base of knowledge was useful because it broadened my field of vision and allowed me to engage with the business side of the newspaper,” he says. “I can follow pretty complicated accounting conversations. And I’m able to [detect] whether other people are blowing smoke or not.”

Golden, who served on the board of directors of the International Herald Tribune for five years and was familiar with its operation, has skillfully guided the paper through this difficult transition, says Alison Smale, deputy foreign editor of the New York Times, who came to the Herald Tribune to serve as its managing editor in January 2004.

“Under Times-Post ownership, there had been no court of adjudication between what the business side and the journalism side felt was right for the paper, and they were left to tussle it out,” Smale says. “The paper lacked a single, unified vision. Michael’s a very balanced individual, quite secure in his own skin. He used classic management techniques to inculcate a firm sense of mission across the board.”

That mission, says Golden, is one shared by the entire New York Times Company: to enhance society by creating, collecting, and distributing high quality news, information, and entertainment.

“We have to be lively and engaging as well as informative and thought provoking,” he says. “The scarce resource today is time. Whether it’s watching CNN, reading Newsweek, or taking the kids to school, people have a lot to do. If your product is not high enough on their list of priorities, it’s not going to make it.”

His values, says Golden, are still based on those held by his great-grandfather long ago.

“We follow a lot of the same principles that Adolph Ochs articulated,” he says. “The New York Times was a failing paper when he bought it. But he reduced the sale price from three cents to two cents while increasing the quality. He believed strongly in the separation of news and advertising–that one didn’t influence the other. And he recognized that the only thing we have to sell is the credibility and reputation of the paper.”

One of the internal debates at the International Herald Tribune has long been, “Is the paper too American?” In fact, the intent at first was to rename the International Herald Tribune–which began as the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune in 1887– the International New York Times. But market research showed widespread resistance to the reflagging.

“The report back was clear,” says Golden, drinking coffee in the rooftop conference room where such decisions are often hashed out. “The International Herald Tribune was seen as an independent international newspaper, and the International New York Times was seen as American. The decision was easy.”

Since many of the Herald Tribune’s stories are supplied by the New York Times’ fifteen hundred reporters, the paper can hardly avoid an American flavor, but Golden is instituting changes both large and small to make the paper more global–such as increasing coverage of world markets; including more soccer, cricket, and rugby; and adding a variety of voices to the op-ed pages. He’s also overseeing general editorial improvements, such as extending deadlines to accommodate more breaking news, expanding the amount of news space, and adding color to the front and back pages.

The Herald Tribune strongly courts elite international executives and opinion leaders, as well as readers who consider themselves “global citizens.” The biggest markets for the Herald Tribune, which has a daily circulation of about 245,000, are France, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland.

“The audience of the International Herald Tribune is fundamentally different than the audience of the New York Times,” Golden says. “They are both affluent, well-placed in their careers, and interested in a wide range of information. But the International Herald Tribune’s readership is one-third American expats and Americans traveling abroad, one-third expats from other countries, and one-third [French] nationals.”

“The IHT may have an American style of journalism, but it is an international publication. We create our own face and our own scoops,” Smale says. “We just did a series on the European Union that we’re very proud of, and we have taken the lead on talking about what constitutes the new Europe and the limits of European unity. It’s amazing to me that from the western shores of Ireland to the borders of the Ukraine, people voted to send representatives to the same democratic legislature.”

At the same time, she says, “Europeans and others are thirsty for news about the United States and its participation in the world at the moment. I can’t imagine that will abate. And, through our ever-closer attachment to the New York Times, we have access to the best Washington reporting there is.”

Publishing an English-language newspaper owned by an American company for a world readership is often an exercise in diplomacy. But Golden harbors no doubts.

“The International Herald Tribune is one of the world’s great newspapers,” Golden says. “The breadth of its news report is unique among daily global papers and it is valued for its strong and independent voice. We are building upon an already strong base.”



© 2005 Emory University