Earlier today, Times CEO Janet Robinson made the point to publicly announce that the Journal, with its “Greater New York” section launched just a month ago, has not yet cut into Times circulation. “We are definitely not seeing any effect in regard to the circulation,” she told Bloomberg. “Are they discounting? Yes, they are, very, very heavily,” she added, noting that the Times has not changed advertising rates, while the Journal has offered steep discounts. “If they’d like to leave those dollars on the table and give free advertising, we’re more than happy to clean them up.” Sounds like the Journal’s little local assault isn’t getting to the Times! Except yesterday’s kerfuffle over text the Journal copied from an ad in the Times and used for its own anti-Times ad might suggest otherwise.
The cease-and-desist letter the Times sent was relatively stern, with lawyers threatening “to pursue all available legal remedies.” But the response that the Journal sent today was not nearly as serious. “We half expected to hear from you,” wrote marketing SVP Jennifer Jehn. “The other half thought you might have more important things to worry about.” Yikes! After some more snide comments, Jehn continues, “I won’t belabor your legal claim. Our lawyers tell us that we were within our rights to use the tag line to compare our two offerings.” And: “We think we’ve made our point. And to get a rise out of you is just a special bonus.”
So … basically they kind of said exactly what we suggested they say! The Times was not amused. “Actually,” a spokeswoman e-mailed to us, “we don’t think theft of intellectual property is a joke.”