What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Jul. 8 2009 - 3:04 pm | 55 views | 2 recommendations | 3 comments

It’s not the Times that should fear the Wall Street Journal’s Arts section

Via Gawker, I read the following about how the Wall Street Journal is going to staff up a weekly arts and culture section focused on New York:

Several Journal sources have confirmed to Off the Record that a weekly New York–only arts-and-culture section is in the planning stages up at The Journal’s new Sixth Avenue headquarters. It’s early yet, but in the very near future, a budget will be drafted for the product, an indication that the effort is a serious one. The new section could be introduced into the newspaper early next year, according to our sources.

“It’ll be arts-and-culture–oriented,” said one staffer, describing the new plan. “The ad side thought they could sell ads on a local New York basis, given the Broadway scene and the arts scene overall.”

According to two staffers, the project is still very much in the conceptual stage, but the paper plans to hire two editors for it, one from outside the paper and one from inside. Journal editors will be drafted to start the section out much sooner on the Web, and that hire will happen in the very near future, according to one Journal source.

via Wall Street Journal Develops New York–Specific Culture Section | The New York Observer.

It’s interesting that the Observer casts this development as targeted toward displacing the Times’s arts coverage (and advertisers). I don’t think that’s really the Journal’s goal.

I think the suggestion in John Koblin’s story that the Times’s arts coverage tends to be a bit anemic is true – and I am biased because I ran the website of the New York Sun, which had the best Arts coverage in the city. But the Times won’t live and die by its Arts coverage. Other New York papers might.

The Observer, ironically, is one of them. True it’s making a big push on its Real Estate section. But on the other hand, after firing a lot of people, Jared Kushner acquired Very Short List from IAC, clearly with the goal of enhancing the paper’s taste-making skills in matters of arts and culture.

And then there’s Manhattan Media’s City Arts NYC, a monthly that entered the fray earlier this year filled with a number of bylines I knew from the Sun’s Arts section, and which was conceived almost entirely by ex-Sun staff (see this blog post at Jewssip for the weird background on that story).

These guys are getting a good chunk of advertising in those areas. And, essentially, if you’re a major arts and cultural advertiser, whose audience would you prefer to spend your ad budget on? The rarefied crowd that actually subscribe to the Observer, City Arts, and few even smaller outlets? Or the deeper and much more numerous pockets of the Wall Street Journal’s readers?

I wish the good editors and reporters at the Observer luck – hopefully they’ll be able to distinguish their content in such a way that they can hold onto their audience as well as their ad pages. Otherwise, as they say on Star Trek: The Next Generation, prepare to be assimilated.

As an after thought: This probably puts the nails in the coffin on the idea that a weekly New York Sun could emerge all phoenix-like. There was background talk that my former boss Seth Lipsky had contemplated getting the gang back together, incluing a meeting last fall that a number of former colleagues participated in. And when the rump NYSun.com re-emerged in April with the Out and About column and episodic almost blog-like editorializing, I wondered if that was moving closer to reality. But with Rupert Murdoch on the scene, I think a future New York Sun would struggle to find talent, let alone advertisers, that would make an arts and culture-focused weekly New York Sun a possibility.


One T/S Member Comment Called Out, 3 Total Comments
Post your comment »
  1. collapse expand

    I find the NY Times art section stuffy and boring and no doubt Rupert is going to try to out do them in that arena. After spending some time in Australia I noticed among the intelligentsia a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of being a second cousin in arts to mother England. Now Rupert got some payback…So look for a Times London transplant arts section.

Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    I'm waiting for the day when I can get the news directly into my brain. Until then, I'll be lit up by the electric glow of screens, chasing the latest breaking like the hopeless news junkie I am. Ever since the Encyclopaedia Britannica tried to launch a web portal ten years ago, I've seen many ends of the online news spectrum, from my time as a political news reporter for both RawStory.com and the Huffington Post to the better part of a year I spent running the late New York Sun's website. There have been a lot of other stops in between. Now I am your homepage editorial overlord. But I haven't let it go to my head. Yet.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 336
    Contributor Since: November 2008
    Location:True/Slant's Mountain Lair

    What I'm Up To

    • The Morningside Post

      I’m a founding editor of The Morningside Post, the community blog for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs


    • 2960885091_89af285ac5_moff off wall street

      where I go to write

      things too impolite

      for work

    • +O
    • +O