The Wall Street Journal today unveiled its hotly anticipated "Greater New York" section as part of Rupert Murdoch’s effort to punch "Pinch" Sulzberger's New York Times. The section looks good. It boasts advertising support from Bloomingdale's (back cover), Macy's, Delta Air, New York University and Time Warner Cable.
A huge opportunity looms. The WSJ could really give Sulzberger a run for its money by covering hometown sports, especially since the NYT has decided to abandon game coverage in favor of “psychobabble” pieces. Look no further than today’s NYT.
Despite a thrilling 1-0 victory in a gem pitched by New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey (24 consecutive shutout innings) last night, the Times devoted much of the first page real estate of "SportsMonday" to "Rivera's Understated Elegance," a story that certainly has Yankee reliever Mariano Rivera squirming. Fans now depend on the Daily News and Post to get play-by-play results. The Journal can join the fray, but ...
The WSJ has to drop the use of the honorific "Mr." after the first mention of a player’s name in a sports story. References to Met ace Johan Santana or Yankee manager Joe Girardi as "Mr." are way too formal. Jason Gay, WSJ sports columnist, made the point in this morning's paper, writing that people are taking sports a "little too seriously, stridently and reverentially."
As on cue, the NYT’s Harvey Araton profiles the quiet, low-key Rivera as a "minimalist" who believes "success is God's plan." Geez, Yankees fans just want Mariano to keep those cutters coming.
Good luck to the WSJ. Junk the appellations when writing about sports guys. You'll score more fans by dropping "Mr. Pelfrey" in favor of "Big Pelf."
Also, I loved the front page headline "Rats Mob the Upper East Side." At first, I thought I was going to read a piece about "Mob Rats" getting whacked on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Instead, the item is a service piece aimed at the WSJ's prime target audience, the swells living in NYC's old "Silk Stocking District" whose multimillion-dollar apartments are being invaded by rats on the move with excavation work for the Second Ave. subway.
That's okay. The News and Post still deliver the goods when it comes to covering the Mob.