broadsideblog

Jurassic Park Redux: The Wall Street Journal's New NYC Edition Debut

In business, Media on April 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm
T-Rex Dinosaur

Image by Scott Kinmartin via Flickr

Welcome to Jurassic Park. Daily print newspapers are supposed to be dead — watch the the T. Rex and the Brontosaurus claw at one another anyway!

I was underwhelmed by today’s first edition of the Journal’s new, much-anticipated Metro section.

The new section is called Greater New York, ( a sop to advertisers that they’ll also include the suburban hedge-fund wives of Scarsdale and Greenwich, CT and Short Hills, NJ) and the best story on front page today — albeit not a breaking news piece — was about a rat infestation on the tony Upper East Side. Chewed Manolos!

One front-page piece looked at the state deciding whether or not to borrow money to avoid a looming $1 billion shortfall and another focused on a commercial real estate story about a Fifth Avenue property. An inside page offered tips on how to swipe your Metrocard properly, a fairly basic urban skill. There were two food stories, two pieces about auction houses, a Tribeca penthouse at $28 million and the Mark Hotel, one of the city’s oldest and most elegant, now struggling for business.

If you’re rich — as most Journal readers are — this sort of thing matters. For the rest of us, who just live here, not so compelling.

Only sports columnist Jason Gay — as WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show admired this morning in their assessment of the new section — won plaudits for his self-deprecating sense of humor:

1. Goes without saying, but this column will be primarily dedicated to New York-area fox-hunting and squash. On occasion, it will cover fringe sports, like that science experiment with a basketball in Madison Square Garden.

2. We’ll do our best to devote equal attention to the Yankees and Mets. On occasions where there is a conflict, we will simply lavish praise on the Yankees. Just kidding, Mets—calm down! Stop being the Jan Brady of New York sports.

The tone of the new section feels stiff and tentative, sort of New York Observer light.

It should be an interesting horse race. The Post is unrepentantly itself — today’s wood (front page) had Boobquake — and the Times will retain its own perspective. The Times and Journal will be duking it out for affluent readers, so their race for ad dollars is one to watch, reports today’s Post:

Shares of the Times Co. fell for a second day on Friday, dropping 68 cents, or 5.5 percent, to $11.61. On Thursday, the company reported first-quarter results that showed ad declines were easing but that the market had not yet hit bottom.

Despite the pressure on ad rates, media buyers don’t foresee advertisers abandoning the Times for the Journal’s Greater New York.

“It’s an attractive opportunity for advertisers looking to heavy up in the New York market,” said George Jansen, director of print at WPP’s GroupM media-buying unit. “Do I think they will pull out of the Times and put it all in the Journal? Absolutely not.”

The Times has some factors in its favor. Roughly half of the paper’s more than 900,000 daily print subscribers are in the New York market.

While the Journal has 1.6 million print subscribers, Greater New York is expected to reach about 300,000 readers. The paper also skews more heavily male than the Times, which makes it a tougher sell for retailers.

Still, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman are advertising in the new section, according to Ad Age. Both also advertise in the Times and fall into the paper’s high-end, New York-centric retail base.

Feel the earth tremble. Let the newspaper war begin!

  1. The tone of the new section feels stiff and tentative, sort of New York Observer light.

    Well put. This is why I’ve been arguing since word of this edition first leaked last year that rather than eating the Times’s lunch, the WSJ NY section was more likely to be sharing the lunches of the Observer, City Arts NYC, and other similar publications. To a certain extent, I think the Times and WSJ are going to serve audiences that are more complementary than competing. And if the Journal gets good enough at local coverage of arts, real estate, etc., a lot of people will decide there isn’t much purpose to subscribing to Mr. Kushner’s weekly rag.

  2. I was eagerly anticipating this section — really ready for the Journal to kick the Times’ butt. There remains much room to do so, leaving behind the blood and gore (and right-win tone) of the Post. I just don’t care to read a lot more about the folkways of the Upper East Side, which is why I don’t read the Observer.

    Both papers want (for their advertisers) an affluent, free-spending audience. In this ravaged economy, that’s not any household making less than $100,000 I’d say, or a lot more if they have kids. I still find it odd that with so many newspapers in Manhattan, the city still has entire pockets you never hear a word about.

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