Newspaper Wars: The Times vs. The Journal, Day 3
In its third day of competition, The New York Times barely beat its new rival for the second day in a row. Harold Evans scores day three of the battle for the Big Apple. Plus, read his scoring of Day 2 and Day 1.
The who-owns-New York fight between Rupert Murdoch’s invading Wall Street Journal (editor Robert Thomson) and Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger’s New York Times (editor Bill Keller) got even more interesting in this third day. The Journal triumphed on its day one debut with a newsy and lively separate Greater New York section. The Times caught up on the second day, scoring on mini-scoops.
On Wednesday, the Times goes narrowly ahead. The Journal’s packaging still appeals, but some readers may ask, where’s the beef? There are two WSJ stories that will make New Yorkers fret, but significant misses, and the Times space allocation for sports and arts pays off.
Space is roughly comparable in news (five ad-free pages NYT, seven fractured WSJ pages). But the NYT swamps the WSJ in arts and sports—six for sports against barely one and half in GNL; six for arts against the WSJ’s two. It shows.
The Journal reported the city and commuters got stiffed in stimulus billions for roads, rail and scientific research, much of the federal funds going to Medicaid, unemployment and education. And another story: One-fifth of the city’s teachers missed class for more than two weeks in the school year. But the WSJ missed the opening of the first trial in the horrific schoolyard executions in Newark, only summarized the Met’s appointment of a new conductor, and offered baseball fans no account of how the Yankees went down to the Orioles and the Mets twice whipped the Dodgers. The NYT also had an intriguing Jim Dwyer column on the prospect that public officials, like Catholic clergy, may face prosecutions for crimes of earlier generations.
WIDTH OF APPEAL
The money in a violin. A well-illustrated preview of a Christies’ auction scores, but the promising Heard and Scene gossip and society page is a washout today—a few standard pics, one story only about a reality TV show. It missed much including the PEN gala packed with New York’s literary community and excitement. Not that the Times did any better on the night—it is generally blind to Metropolitan goings on—but it did have a tantalizing taste of Russian intrigue that has triggered the absence of a Guggenheim board member. And the Times’ arts and sports coverage was superior.
ORGANIZATION AND DESIGN
The Times gets a point for opening its interior section on a right hand page. GNL loses one for the ugh quality of its sans serif supered on sickly green and gray tints.
Harold Evans, author of two histories of America, just published his memoir, My Paper Chase. Editor at large of The Week, he was editor of The Sunday Times from 1967-81 and The Times from 1981-82, founding editor of Condé Nast Traveler, and president of Random House Trade Group from 1990-97.