Recent reports indicate The Wall Street Journal may soon launch local metro coverage in Chicago and Los Angeles. This comes on the heels of the Journal rolling out a San Francisco edition and announcing a planned metro section for New York. Not to be outdone, The New York Times has added local pages to its San Francisco and Chicago editions. Why does it matter?
These outlets seem to be looking to fill a void left by the decline of papers like the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Times. But the big question is whether a couple of pages of local content a few times a week in the Journal or Times will have an immediate impact on the media landscape in these cities.
"We view it as a challenge, but we're not going to change how we do things," says Brandon Copple, managing editor of Crain's Chicago Business. He adds that even with new rivals, his outlet has more opportunities because of business coverage cutbacks at the Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.
Susan Brophy, SVP of national media relations at GolinHarris, notes that the Journal's and Times' new pages create added PR opportunities, but cautions, "It won't help if you have a national client and you try to pitch them with a local angle. If you look at what the Times is doing in San Francisco, it's local companies, local CEOs, and local economic news."
She adds that these new sections will likely focus on dominant local industries, such as entertainment in Los Angeles, marketing/advertising in Chicago, and tech in San Francisco.Three facts:
1 The Chicago News Cooperative, a nonprofit staffed by former Tribune editors and reporters, will provide coverage for the Times' upcoming Chicago edition
2 Web sites like The Huffington Post and True/Slant are also looking to target major markets, such as Chicago, with dedicated bloggers, columnists, and content
3 Hearst Newspapers is threatening to close the San Francisco Chronicle, which saw a nearly 26% decline in readership this year and is losing $1 million a week