HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Ken Doctor: Why The New York Times hired Kinsey Wilson
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 17, 2009, 2:39 p.m.

NYT vs. WSJ: the quietest newspaper war in America

If there’s one place where print journalism is thriving, it’s the stoop outside my apartment building in Boston. I counted 12 daily newspapers tossed against the steps at dawn this morning. But a look underneath their plastic wrapping reveals a crucial trend: Among the dozen papers, just one was The Boston Globe. Six were The Wall Street Journal, and five were The New York Times.

As papers like the Globe suffer, the Journal and the Times are engaged in a pitched but unusually quiet battle for readers outside the New York metro area who might be persuaded to abandon their local dailies. In a small development on Friday, the Times announced a deal that will extend newsstand sales and home delivery of the newspaper to Nashville, Tenn. That becomes the 26th North American city where the Times is printed, and I’ve mapped them above.

Both the Times and the Journal are working to make themselves more appealing as first-read newspapers for national readers in largely affluent markets. The Times is mulling a few plans that I’m trying to pin down, while the Journal has radically shifted its news coverage and remade its front page. Alan Murray, deputy managing editor of the Journal, told me in April:

What Rupert Murdoch has done is come in and say, look, you’re missing a big opportunity….These papers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia are very weak. We should be going in there and saying to people, you don’t need this paper. We can give you everything that you need in The Wall Street Journal.

One market to keep an eye on is San Francisco, where The Chronicle is teetering and The Los Angeles Times might as well be Le Monde. I’d expect to see interesting experiments there from national news brands.

It’s also worth considering how an insurgence of national newspapers affects their local counterparts. A fascinating study in 2005 found that when The New York Times increased its penetration in a market, college-educated readers abandoned their local newspapers. But at the same time, local newspapers upped their focus on local news and, at least back then, increased their circulation among readers without a college degree. That dynamic isn’t limited to print, but it’s certainly the battle being fought on my stoop.

POSTED     Aug. 17, 2009, 2:39 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Ken Doctor: Why The New York Times hired Kinsey Wilson
The former chief content officer at NPR will be moving up I-95 to one of the most important digital positions at the Times.
Why Google is taking another shot at helping readers pay for news
Google Contributor is the latest tool the company has designed to help readers pay for what they read online. But its previous experiments in supporting paid content have had limited success.
In Canada, newspapers’ attempts to experiment with ebooks haven’t seen much success
A number of papers across the country started ebook programs in the early part of this decade, repurposing their archives or producing new work. They haven’t been the moneymakers some had hoped.
What to read next
718
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
540Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
502Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Plaza Pública
Associated Press
SF Appeal
News Corp
Apple
Twitter
Gannett
Global Voices
Center for Public Integrity
Storify
Las Vegas Sun
Honolulu Civil Beat