Today begins a media war in New York as Rupert Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal launches a New York section to bedevil The New York Times with 12 daily pages of city and state news from The Times' home turf, and The Journal's as well, of course.
Murdoch, who paid $5 billion for the paper in 2007, is investing $15 million-a-year in the New York section and staffing it with about 35 journalists, reports Ed Pilkington in The Guardian.
That places Murdoch in a counter-trend position as he expands The Journal at a time when the newspaper business is contracting. The Times recently cut back on its Metro section and moved it into the main news section. It should be a dandy battle -- Murdoch versus Arthur Sulzberger at The Times.
The Web page of The Journal's new Greater New York section leads today with "Rats Mob the Upper East Side – Rats have taken over a stretch of the Upper East Side since blasting for the Second Avenue subway sent the rodents scurrying into apartments and even car engines."
Pilkington reports that soon after he took over the Journal, Murdoch "told a meeting of Dow Jones executives and Journal editors: 'We've got to ... figure out how to cripple, really cripple The New York Times.'"
For its part, The Times has lured Kate Taylor, an arts reporter from The Journal and Bob Christie, the Journal's head of PR who now represents Sulzberger, and Pilkington advises, it's planning on improving its city coverage both in the paper and on its Web site, as well as with an iPhone app on city life.
Many are shaking their heads over what sort of business sense a newspaper war like this one makes, so stand back and watch Murdoch and Sulzberger go at it.
Rupert Murdoch photo by Nati Harnik, AP