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Rivals NYT and WSJ expand and innovate

June 18: Over the last year it has become clear that an old-fashioned newspaper war has been taking place as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal vie to be the top dog. Lately, some new developments have been happening as the two papers continue to expand and battle it out.

The Times is heading west later this summer with the opening of bureaus in Phoenix and Kansas City. Little has been reported on the opening of the bureaus, other than Arthur G. Sulzberger will relocate to head up the Kansas City bureau. Meanwhile, Mexico, Central America and Caribbean bureau chief Marc Lacey will head to Arizona as the Phoenix bureau chief.

Earlier this year, The Times launched sections covering San Francisco’s Bay Area and Chicago. EditorsWeblog reported in February that the San Francisco section had actually brought in 1,100 new subscribers. Could the new bureaus serve as a basis for new sections in their attempts to gain new readers? According to Diane McNulty, executive director of corporate communications for the New York Times Company, this isn’t the case. “No, local sections are not planned in Phoenix and Kansas City at this time,” she told inVocus in an e-mail.

Other changes at The Times include the addition of a site called Beta620, reported Ad Age. The site will serve as a platform for The Times to experiment with new ideas before posting them to NYTimes.com. “Our hope is that we will be able to bring new ideas from concept to prototype to launch much faster with a public beta site than we could using NYTimes.com alone – and that we may do so without the risk of disrupting NYTimes.com or conflicting with other development projects,” Marc Frons, chief technology officer for digital operations at The Times, said in a staff memo quoted by Ad Age.

At the same time, the Wall Street Journal is expanding its paper only two months after the launch of its Greater New York section. According to the New York Observer, WSJ will add a weekend leisure and lifestyle section that is scheduled to debut this fall.

“Clearly Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has aspirations to take on the New York Times directly as a general interest national newspaper. I don’t think the New York Times folks are quaking or that their franchise on topics like politics or the arts is endangered,” Poynter Institute media business analyst Rick Edmonds told inVocus in a previous interview.

While only time will tell how this will all play out, the Journal’s efforts haven’t come without rewards. According to MediaPostNews, the latest readership survey from Media Audit found that total readership has grown 20 percent in the last three years. Meanwhile, The New York Times’ readership has remained level.

Either way, there is a lot of activity happening at the two newspaper rivals that continue to expand and innovate amidst a continuing media upheaval.

— Katrina M. Mendolera

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