Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Times of London in New York. And New Jersey.

The Times of London is going to on newsstands in New York and New Jersey soon, for $1 a copy. That sounds interesting until you hear the 218 year-old paper is owned by one Rupert Murdoch. He bought it in 1981.

Some are questioning the wisdom of bringing a British paper into a market where the very viability of print is in question. From the Baltimore Sun:
"It's really puzzling," said Bonnie Brownlee, associate dean of the Indiana University School of Journalism. "This is some novelty pipe dream by British news organizations that are hoping to sell in the United States. It's hard to see how they're going to make any money. The BBC is one thing - there's hope for them. But the Times? Who wants it? It's not what it used to be. It's a Murdoch paper! And it's so weird reading it as a tabloid."
Times management was apparently tempted by a recent swell in American Times Online readership.

The New York Post, the once reputable paper that Murdoch bought and turned into a tabloid in 1977, will distribute the Times in America. The Post has an interesting history -- it was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, who you may know as one of the two non-presidents to appear on American paper money, or the guy who was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr.

William Cullen Bryant, the famous poet and abolitionist was one of the Post's early editors. The Post had a liberal reputation until Murdoch bought it. After that the reputation turned conservative, but also sensational. Under Murdoch's careful stewardship, the paper became known for headlines such as April 1983's "HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR." (Which I grant you is inspired.)

Is this what we can expect from Murdoch's Times of London? Not exactly. The Times is one of Murdoch's more "serious" papers, and part of the reason he's bringing it here, ironically, is the perception of British journalism's lack of bias. Peter Gross of the University of Oklahoma told the Baltimore Sun:
"The credibility of the American media is falling ... People don't have much trust in it. They think it's biased. It's my feeling that the Brits looked at all these things and figured there's a chance to make some money."

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