WSJ vs. NYT War Heats Up

WSJ responds to cease-and-desist; Times Co. CEO says “Greater New York” yet to make a dent

The turf war between the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, while not totally cold, seemed to have simmered down a bit in recent weeks — at least compared to the ping-pong tête-à-tête that followed WSJ’s "Greater New York" launch, which brought the crosstown rivalry to a boil.

But the battle heated back up this week, as the Times sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Journal over one of its ads, claiming the News Corp.-owned paper copied its "Not Just Wall Street. Every Street." marketing copy word-for-word.

The Journal responded with a letter of its own.

"We half-expected to hear from you," the WSJ letter reads. "The other half thought you might have more important things to worry about. When we saw the "catchy" phrase, we couldn’t help but think you were referring to the launch of our Greater New York section — the whole point of which is to cover New York beyond Wall Street. After all, did you not have us in mind when you conceived the ad?"

"Our lawyers tell us that we were within our rights to use the tag line to compare our two offerings," it continues. "But don’t be too concerned. We never intended to run the ad for long. We think we’ve made our point. And to get a rise out of you is just a special bonus."

The Times, for its part, said it won’t pursue legal action, according to the New York Oberver.

Meanwhile, New York Times Co. chief executive officer Janet Robinson told Bloomberg on Friday that the paper has not felt a dent in terms of circulation or advertising from the Journal’s aggressive play.

“We are definitely not seeing any effect in regard to the circulation,” Robinson said. “Are they discounting? Yes, they are, very, very heavily.”

She added the Times has kept up its rates, something it said it would do. (In April, president and general manager Scott Heekin-Canedy insisted the Times wouldn’t “get in a pricing war” with Rupert Murdoch’s paper.

A spokesperson for the Journal said its advertising revenue “increased” in April and May – but that would be expected.

More to read:

Newspapering as Blood Sport: WSJ vs. NYT