• The 15 July 1939 first edition.

09.08.2014 By: Christian Doepgen

Artikel Nummer: 6823

Globalisation in our blood

The first edition of the International Transport Journal was published on 15 July 1939 in Basel. Reason enough for us to look back on the early days on the eve of a world war, building the magazine in the economic miracle years, the progressive internationalisation as the years went on, the digital revolution, and the economic globalisation of today.

The founding father of our journal was called Franz Rittmann, and he not only stood at the cradle of the ITJ, but shaped its development for half a century. ­After a few years as a bright-eyed young learner with forwarders in Switzerland and Belgium he focused on what was then the no. 1 transport mode by founding a firm for railfreight rates in Basel in 1934. The ann­exation of Austria by Germany in 1938 provided Rittmann with an opportunity to buy the General Tariff Press from an acquaintance in Vienna, professor Alexander Freud (the psychoanalyst’s brother), thus ensuring that the publication was not expropriated.



On 15 July 1939 the first edition of our magazine, with eight pages, appeared in ­Basel. It was given its distinctive pink appearance by graphic designer Fritz Bühler. Rittmann, 31 at the time, was publisher, journalist and salesman rolled into one.


War and reconstruction

Despite the outbreak of the war and the conscription of employees into the military, Rittmann continued to publish at regular 14-day intervals. In addition to a wealth of individual news items from the international forwarding, shipping and cargo handling scene, the magazine focused on railway tariffs, customs and foreign exchange regulations. The ITJ was a specialist journal and benefited from its status as the sole international source of information on transport tariffs. In this way it managed to get through the war.


From 1945 onwards the ITJ also appeared in French, and the size of the team grew. There was shipping editor Robert Federspiel and marketing man Leon Koechly, who founded the tradition of a worldwide sales department to match the global editorial content of the ITJ.


In the subsequent decades the title broadened its range of subjects. The introduction of containers revolutionised shipping. As early as in the 1970s Federspiel had written about the «jumboisation of containerships» in his column entitled From the Topp, and predicted that this would create a new competitive situation in the international shipping industry.» Growing technical possibilities saw logistics given pride of place in the magazine, and air cargo was given its own separate section. As trucks began to make their triumphant entrance road transport was also given more space.


The magazine naturally pays great attention to covering international markets, which began with the so-called Country Pages and developed into today’s regular Regional Focus section. In addition there are numerous geographic specials that appear regularly throughout the year.


Rise to trilingualism

In the early 1970s, Guido Trevisan was appointed to the executive board. With his sales team he built a vast network of contacts in the international transport industry. An English summary of the ITJ, the Overseas Digest, was inserted in the German and French edition and also sent separately to the United Kingdom and overseas. Some years later this summary was expanded to include country sections covering the United Kingdom, North and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia and published as the ITJ’s Overseas Edition.


In 1991, in the 53rd year of its existence, Rittmann retired and sold the publishing firm to the Basler Zeitung (BaZ), where the ITJ had also printed for a while. He had rejected offers from Holland and Germany, as he considered the magazine’s Swiss base to be essential.


Further (digital) developments

It was during the years when the magazine belonged to the BaZ that colour printing was introduced, with three separate editions with identical content in English, French and German, for a readership in 131 countries. Over and above this, ­selected issues began to come out in additional languages. Today there are Specials in Russian, Spanish and Portuguese every year, and in November 2014 there will be an Italian supplement for the first time.

In 2002, the company added a digital counterpart to the published journal, namely an online newsletter called the ITJ Daily. This appears in English every working day and covers all the latest industry news. Ten years after its launch the ITJ Daily was redesigned and relaunched. It now includes visuals and illustrated articles, amongst other things.

In addition, all printed editions of the ITJ are published as e-magazines, too. Since 2005 the ITJ has been part of Germany’s Südwestdeutsche Medienholding corporation (SWMH), where it is a part of the Munich-­based Süddeutscher Verlag’s specialist trade journal subsidiary. So our next anniversary – ten years as a member of SWMH – is coming up.


The team of the ITJ team would like to take this opportunity to thank all of its readers, subscribers and advertisers for their ongoing interest, criticism and support – going back several decades, in some cases. Christian Doepgen




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