WSJ shakes up New York newspaper market

The time has come to "shock the bourgeoisie," proclaimed The Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson as he introduced the Journal's Greater New York section on Monday.

The time has come to "shock the bourgeoisie," proclaimed The Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson as he introduced the Journal's Greater New York section on Monday.

At the flashy launch breakfast held at The Plaza Hotel near Central Park, Thomson made it very clear that Greater New York would be targeting The New York Times' affluent readers with local news on current events, culture, sports, and real estate.

While it is still early to say if Greater New York offers something unique enough to eclipse the Times' stronghold, it has been received favorably so far, especially by PR professionals who welcome another New York title to pitch their clients to.

Lloyd Trufelman, president and CEO of Trylon SMR, said: “From a cultural viewpoint, up until this launch everyone knows The New York Times has been in a league of its own, so it is great to have another option.”

The Journal is arguably a strong contender to win over some of the Times' audience. The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, once considered a specialist in business and finance reporting, now sells more than two million copies a day. This week's Audit Bureau of Circulations figures show it overtook USA Today as the newspaper with the biggest national circulation in the US.

By comparison, the Times shifts around 950,000 newspapers daily, but still outsells the Journal in New York by just more than 100,000 copies.

As media reports speculate as to whether there is about to be another Murdoch-fueled newspaper circulation war, all parties agree on one thing -- Greater New York has breathed new life into an industry that in recent years has been more about downturn then revival.

Nick Ragone, partner and associate director at Ketchum, is impressed with the new section and is actively analyzing how his clients can work with the title.

“It is exceptionally well done, great layout, and range of stories and real depth and breadth to the reporting,” said Ragone. "It changes our math when it comes to counseling our clients and we are telling our team to take the sections apart and really get to know it, so we can properly advise our clients.”

Since the launch, the Journal and Times have moved quickly to stake their claims on the New York marketplace.

Diane McNulty, executive director of community affairs and media relations for the Times, said: “We don't shrink from competition; we are motivated by it. The New York Times is part of the fabric of New York City. It has covered and been part of the city's institutions for nearly 160 years. Our readers rely on the Times as a trusted source of news."

But Kelly Leache, GM at the Journal, argues that Greater New York can bring something new to New Yorkers. 

“We carefully analyzed what was going on in the marketplace," she said, "and while we acknowledge there will be some topic overlap we believe we are presenting readers and advertisers something really exciting beyond what The New York Times offers.”

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