This morning we ran out extra early to get a hard copy of The Wall Street Journal instead of reading it online, discovering for the first time that the owner of our East Village deli actually hides copies of that particular paper behind the counter for special customers. We wanted to check out the new “Greater New York” section, which is touted on the front page of the paper with a banner advertising its contents. Flipping through the sixteen pages, plump with ads, we were struck that it was exactly what we expected in some ways, but distinctly not in others. For one thing, there are several more bylines than the ones we’d heard about leading up to the launch. And though we knew the paper was going after the Times’ swishy Upper East Side readers, we wouldn’t have guessed it would pander so directly, with stories like “Rats Mob the Upper East Side” and Precious Backers Give $1.3 Million for City Teens. (The latter appears to be part of a series called “Donor of the Day,” which will presumably feature a rich person from Manhattan doing something nice each day. Of all the content in the section today, this strikes us as the feature least likely to last.)
With the wide berth of coverage, essentially it’s an entire city newspaper squished into a section. Add a few more pages, and you’ve got the old New York Sun — many alumni of which have now been transplanted to the Journal. So what else is in there?
The Stories: The section reads a little like they’ve been saving up their best stories for today, which is probably the case. The lead item, about would-be terrorist Najibullah Zazi getting past the Port Authority despite a warning about him to the agency by the FBI, notes: “The failure to uncover the explosives after an alert about Mr. Zazi from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been widely discussed among police but never publicly disclosed.” In a story about the state government deciding whether to borrow money, the author relies on quotes gathered last week to continue a story he’s been writing about in the Journal for a month now. The paper is also heavy on art news, with an article about Christie’s art-storage space in Brooklyn, one about Phillips de Pury moving to midtown and one about a Met memorial to the artist Jeanne-Claude. There are cop stories, as we’d heard there would be, and even a police blotter, which, as you well know, is one of our favorite things in any paper, and which is a little bit (delightfully) out of place in the highbrow section.
The Sections: There are four front pages in the pull-out section labeled “City News.” One page appears to be devoted solely to real estate, one to society, two to arts and entertainment, and two to sports.
The Features: There are a couple of regular-seeming columns. One, called “Urban Gardner” by Ralph Gardner Jr., teaches the proper way to swipe a Metrocard — with a helpful diagram (if you are a person who needs a diagram to scratch your nose). Another, by Marshall Heyman in the “Heard & Scene” society section, tells the story of the celebrity-packed Brooklyn Ball, which took place five days ago at the Brooklyn Museum. There’s also a real-estate box labeled “The Assessor” that has a “New York House of the Day” (this time a $28 million Tribeca penthouse) and a bit of news on the Manhattan condo market.
The Ads: So far we see a lot of the ads we’ve heard the Journal landed to anchor the section: Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Delta, First Republic Bank. There’s also ads for NYU and Jersey Boys. Overall, it looks like they’re doing well on that front, at least in the debut, with a mix of New York–based companies and national ones.