The Wall Street Journal’s brand-new New York city section is set to debut on April 26, with the not-so-hidden goal of escalating Rupert Murdoch’s turf war with Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and the New York Times. It’s a tall order: The Times’ city section has been reinvigorated in recent years by aggressive Albany reporting and an aggressive online push via the City Room blog. So how do the two newsrooms stack up? Even accounting for slight differences in assignment (the Journal city room will cover only New York, whereas Times city reporters must also do national reporting on their beat), the staff numbers say Murdoch has an uphill battle.
Here’s a list of the reporters we know will be devoted, at least part-time, to working on the Journal’s new New York section. After each, we’ve listed the reporters that cover the same beat for the Times. As you can see, in nearly every beat, the Times already has two reporters in place for each one of the Journal’s.
Journal: Michael Saul (City Hall); Jacob Gershman (Albany)
Times: Michael Barbaro, David W. Chen (City Hall); Danny Hakim, Nicholas Confessore, Jeremy Peters (Albany), Ray Hernendez (D.C.-based)
Journal: Barbara Martinez
Times: Jenny Medina, Sharon Otterman, Jenny Anderson
Times: Michael Grynbaum
Journal: Sean Gardiner, Joel Stonington
Times: Ray Rivera, Al Baker
Journal: Pia Catton, Erica Orden
Times: Pat Healy (theater), Carol Vogel, Randy Kennedy (art), Robin Pogrebin, Kate Taylor, Kevin Flynn (institutions), Ben Sisario (pop music), Dan Wakin (classical music), Chip McGrath, David Carr, Melena Ryzik, Larry Rohter, Felicia Lee, Dave Itzkoff, (general assignment), Patricia Cohen (intellectual life)
Journal: Sumathi Reddy (they are reported to be interviewing for a critic)
Times: Sam Sifton (critic), Florence Fabricant, Pete Wells, Kim Severson
Journal: Josh Barbanel, Craig Karmin
Times: Christine Haughney, Vivian S. Toy, Christopher Gray, Elizabeth Harris, Constance Rosenblum, Joyce Cohen
Journal: Jim Baumbach (Yankees), Mike Sielski (Mets), Aditi Kinkhabwala (football), Scott Cacciola and Kevin Clark (basketball), Sophia Hollander, Bill Eichenberger (editor).
Times: Tyler Kepner and Ben Shpigel (Yankees); Joe Lapointe and David Waldstein (Mets); Judy Battista, Greg Bishop (football); Howard Beck, Jonathan Abrams and Pete Thamel (basketball, college and pro); Tom Jolly (editor)
This list excludes three young general-assignment reporters for the Journal who will apparently be covering various citywide topics as they come up. It also excludes the Times’ four outer-borough reporters, local investigations team, and the couple dozen other Metro reporters (the department has 45-50 reporters in total according to multiple staffers). There are also reporters at both papers who contribute to city-centric coverage from other departments, particularly business. Still — and it may be obvious to say — according to the numbers, it’s hard to imagine that the Journal will be able to provide nearly the breadth of city coverage that is already provided by the paper it is trying so publicly to take down.