David Carr has a characteristically wry-on-rye view of the Wall Street Journal’s launch of a New York edition today and the newspaper war that supposedly ensues.
We’re supposed to celebrate newspaper wars. Good ol’ days, remember? But I think this one could be deadly.
These two former giants are fighting over a shrinking pie with no filling. The Times is third in the New York area — much of that in the tri-state suburbs — with 406k daily circulation. The Journal has 294k in the same region. The New York Daily News leads with 570k and the Post with 530k — and they each get most of that in New York City.
The Times has a large reporting staff devoted to New York — it’s big and expensive and hard to cover — and limited local advertising (especially, of course, in classified). Two years ago, I suggested that The Times drop or spin off metro and make itself a truly national newspaper. Maybe if they’d done that — not there was a chance in hell they would have — Murdoch wouldn’t have chosen New York as his battleground with them. But now he has and so now they have to fight. And they’ll carry that fight, they say, to more metro areas (though in Chicago, The Times is working with a not-for-profit partner, reducing costs).
This is not a fair fight since Murdoch doesn’t so much care about making a sustainable business as he does about