Two years after News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch bought The Wall Street Journal for $5.6 billion, the paper says it has cut down on analytical reporting to make room for shorter, more general news stories in an effort to "broaden readership and to compete more directly with the New York Times." But to do it, the conservative publisher will need to convince the New York Times to allow Murdoch to use its printing press.
"Rupert thinks the Times is vulnerable. He's going to go after them, " a longtime senior executive revealed to the Los Angeles Times.
Now the global media magnate has allotted $15 million to develop a New York edition of The Journal, which will cover daily local news, crime, sports and culture. To make room for the new addition, News Corp. is upgrading its South Bronx printing press.
But the upgrade has been delayed, according to The Times. To make the scheduled launch in April, News Corp. is being forced to find a press willing to print up to eight million copies of Murdoch's other Gotham holding, The New York Post, over the next two months. After The Daily News declined to bail out its rival, News Corp. approached The Times.
“We are in discussions with News Corp. to allow them to make use of our presses,” said Scott Heekin-Canedy, president and general manager of The Times. “This is an advantageous business transaction and nothing more."
News Corp. declined to comment.
At a typical printing rate, The Times would earn about $200,000 from this transaction, but they're likely to ask for a bonus beyond Murdoch's ironic self-abasement. While the extra money is attractive in the declining newspaper industry, if The Times continues to evacuate its newsroom, Murdoch might have the last laugh.