Ever since word got out that The Wall Street Journal was planning to launch a New York bureau, some people over at News Corp.’s other paper here, the New York Post, have been a little uneasy. “People want to know what it means for us, whether [Rupert Murdoch will] lose interest,” one reporter told the Times, noting that the Australian media tycoon’s energy lately seems to have been directed more at the broadsheet paper. The Journal has nicer offices in the News Corp. building, for example, while the Post staff languishes in dingy, unrenovated spaces a few floors away. The Journal is also going to take over a portion of the Post’s state-of-the-art printing facility. And now, since the larger paper will be covering the city more closely, some people say they’re worried that means there won’t be room for the Post in Murdoch’s New York media strategy.
As the Times observes, with the new New York bureau, the Journal and the Post are more rapidly approaching a parallel to the strategy Murdoch has in place in London with the Times and the Sun. The latter is one of the city’s most popular “red tops,” or salacious, tabloid-type newspapers. The Times is more serious and highbrow. The same relationship exists in Australia with the broadsheet The Australian and the alarmist Sydney Telegraph, which thrives on scandalmongering. The tag-team papers cover some of the same terrain, but in such vastly different approaches they do not directly compete. (Yes, Murdoch has significantly changed the Journal already. But don’t expect to read the headline: “HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR” in its pages anytime soon.) Rather, their aim is to best their myriad rivals in their own category.
The Post’s worst enemy has long been, and will continue to be, the Daily News — not an in-house rival. Unfortunately, the latest reports have the Post’s circulation down 30 percent in two and a half years — to 508,000 against the News’ 544,000. The latter tabloid is also thicker with ads, and has a more robust online readership. If there’s something to worry about, it’s those schmucks across town, not the ones in the same building — even if they get the better offices.