For the last decade, Thomas Crampton worked for the NYT and the International Herald Tribune as a foreign correspondent, filing hundreds of dispatches.
But when the NYT merged the IHT into its home website in April, the move had an unexpected and painful side effect: it killed off the IHT's entire web archives. And that meant it erased links to almost all of Crampton's stories from overseas.
Today, on his personal website, the former NYT/IHT correspondent -- now based in China and working on an entrepreneurial venture -- raised the issue with his former employer, in the form of a surprisingly amiable open letter to NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
"Hell hath no fury like a reporter deleted," Crampton begins:
For more than a decade, as you know, I enjoyed a wonderful and globe-trotting career at both newspapers. I would recommend anyone to work for these publications. You were a great employer, I had great colleagues and both publications are great to read. That said, your normally web-savvy team just made one of the most boneheaded moves done by a major news website since the dawn of the Internet.
On a personal level I am horrified that I can no longer see all my stories. The IHT logo on this blog used to link to a search of the IHT website for my articles. On a professional level, I am appaled that the NY Times would kill all the links back to the IHT website. Imagine the power of combining two sites with a Google rank of 9 instead of killing one.
Also, imagine all the frustrated potential readers who click on a link to a specific story only to find themselves landing on the generic NY Times global front page.
The only way readers can find the IHT stories is by going to places where they were copied and reposted or Google cache. Is that a good for readers (or shareholders)?
In conclusion, Mr. Sulzberger, please do what you can to resurrect my articles onto the Internet.
Failing that, could I please drop by sometime to download a digital copy of my articles for my own reference?
In advance, thank you for your help on this.
Pretty polite, considering.
Last month, IHT editor Martin Gottlieb was asked to address the issue of the paper's lost archives in a "Talk To The Newsroom" web feature:
Q. Since the International Herald Tribune Web site re-styled itself as the Global Edition of the New York Times, a number of stories in the I.H.T. archive seem to have disappeared. Can you please explain how that happened and when you expect to reinstate them (assuming, that is, that you do intend to reinstate them)?
— Victoria G., Brooklyn
A. The most recent I.H.T. articles can now be found by searching NYTimes.com. We are in the process of moving I.H.T. articles dating back to 1991 over to NYTimes.com. You can find them here. Thanks for your patience as we complete this transition.
But the link Gottlieb provided takes a reader to an index that doesn't include any of the old IHT stories that had been taken down. And more than a month later, the NYT appears to still be "in the process" of moving the articles.
Just how long does that take, anyway? Come on, guys. Do Crampton a favor and get him his links back. He's asking nicely.