By Kyle | April 26, 2010
For those myriad New Yorkers and residents of surrounding suburbs who have ached for a true alternative to the New York Times — a broadsheet treatment of the same ground — that day is finally come. The Wall Street Journal, whose circulation is already double the Times’, launches its new greater New York section today. Gawker has a post on it and is snarky (mainly) towards…the Times, which is so alarmed it put out a typically humor-challenged but would-be jokey press release advising the Journal about basic New York facts, as if the Journal were not a New York newspaper. The Times has been paring back costs drastically while the Journal has been beefing up. The Times is frightened.
The Times’ cluelessness is summed up by a press release headed: The Times’ Readers: Loyal, Engaged, Female. Obviously, Journal readers are even more engaged (and even richer, and even more loyal: look at the way the Journal has successfully gotten large numbers of its readers to pay for Web access) But to restate the even more obvious: female audiences are a lot easier to reach than male ones, and well-off adult males are by far the biggest game hunted by advertisers. This is because men (sorry, it’s true) have much less time to spend on media consumption than women. Men gravitate toward higher-paying, higher-risk professions in private industry where the boss will work you till you drop, whereas women choose more meaningful (to them) careers like education and government work where your hours tend to be fixed. There are vast numbers of educated women who simply choose not to work outside the home. And consider that virtually every TV network is aimed at women, whereas the male audience is essentially confined to the sports and news channels. There are literally dozens of successful women’s magazines — seemingly neutral magazines like People and Entertainment Weekly, you will quickly note by glancing at the ads, are among them — but only a few for men. Moreover, in the last couple of years I’ve spotted more and more women reading the Wall Street Journal on the subway. A few years ago this was a rare occurrence.
The Times is a bit like a terrier or an infant who just can’t be distracted from a handful of drool-covered squeaky toys. I use the word in both senses when I say their “issues” — they are exactly the same ones that were endlessly shouted about on Ivy League campuses in the 1980s — not only shadow the way the paper is edited, reported and written (see, most famously, the feminist sports section, with its boring indignation about men-only private country clubs), they subtract valuable resources from other interesting stories — exactly the kinds of stories the Journal covers so brilliantly. It will be interesting to see how crazy-making the Journal will henceforth be to the Times. I might even start reading the Times every day again, and this is something I have not done since approximately 2004, the year you couldn’t make your way through an article in the Times that didn’t contain a plug for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” an attack on the Bush administration, or both.