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Thread: The Post vs. The Daily News

  1. #1

    Default The Post vs. The Daily News

    March 29, 2003
    War in Iraq Stokes Battle Between the City's Tabloids

    With a novelty bottle of "Saddam Insane" hot sauce displayed prominently on his cherry desk, Col Allan, the editor of The New York Post, was ruminating about "the enemy."

    "The battle has been joined," he said, a bank of nearby television screens ablaze with artillery fire. "And it is to the death."

    However much he may wish the Iraqi government ill, Mr. Allan was talking about The Daily News, and his desire to put it out of business.

    The Post and The News have been sparring for decades, of course, in what is now one of the few "newspaper wars" still raging in this country. But with a level of bombast that is unusual even for an editor of The Post, Mr. Allan, a 49-year-old Australian, has seized on the conflict in Iraq as an opportune moment to wrest readers and attention away from The News, most notably by using, at times, what he acknowledges as opinionated language.

    Not only have the French been depicted as "weasels" on The Post's news pages, but by yesterday the Iraqis were being described as "ferrets," "thugs" and "madmen."

    By coupling that strategy with acidic insults at his only real competition — Mr. Allan describes The News as "lacking modernity" — he appears to have taken a page from Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of Fox News. Like The Post, Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which has sought to position its news network as the more compelling alternative to its rival CNN.

    Told of Mr. Allan's taunts, Edward Kosner, the editor of The Daily News, who was raised in Washington Heights and educated at City College, could not resist responding in kind.

    "An American editor," said Mr. Kosner, the collar of his dress shirt as tight as Mr. Allan's is loose, "would not approach reporting a war in which Americans are getting killed with pleasure in getting to cover that war."

    "He's not going to put us out of business," Mr. Kosner, 65, added. "The Daily News will be here long after Col Allan has gone back to Australia."

    In its most recent incarnation, the competition between The Post and The Daily News is being fought with limited resources. Neither, for example, has dispatched more than three staff journalists to the war zone.

    Instead, each has often sought to boost circulation through more modest gestures, such as adding a standing flourish of patriotism to its front page — an American flag in the upper left corner for The Post, big blue stars on the nameplate of The News.

    Like every other major newspaper, the two tabloids have been providing readers with enormous maps, which, in The Post's case, have been presented in color and are largely reproduced from a sister paper, The Times of London.

    But in capturing the readers' attention by provocation, there has been no contest.

    While The News responded to reports of the execution of American prisoners of war with the banner headline "Outrage" on Monday, The Post had the far more loaded "Savages." Yesterday, when The News led with "Friendly Fire" and "30 Marines wounded in attack near Nassiriya," The Post said, "Saddam's evil order to kids: Fight or your parents die," followed by "How low can Iraq sink."

    Each is hoping these wartime editions — with as many as a dozen more pages a day than usual, and tens of thousands more copies on newsstands — can change the reading habits of New Yorkers.

    According to the most recently audited circulation figures, which were for the six months ending Sept. 30, The News had a daily circulation of 715,000, which was 125,000 more than the Post. But while The Post has been gaining ground, (an increase of 10 percent over a year earlier), The News has been losing it (a decline of 2.5 percent).

    The papers' economic health is difficult to evaluate because The News is privately -held and The Post's figures are not broken out in News Corporation's financial filings.

    Both Mr. Murdoch and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the owner of The News, appear to enjoy having a gaudy megaphone in the New York media market. But in their news pages, each paper has reflected the personality of its top editor.

    Mr. Allan, who has been editor in chief of the Post since April 2001 and who previously edited The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, claims credit for The Post's campaign to discredit the French. When a reporter with a French-sounding name called for an appointment, Mr. Allan first asked, "You French?" before expressing relief that the reporter's mother was Canadian-born.)

    "Our view is that the conduct of the French has been disgraceful," said Mr. Allan, who began his newspaper career after dropping out of Australian National University. "To be subtle might be confusing."

    Not only has Mr. Allan sanctioned articles like how to avoid buying French cheese, he has also changed his own lifestyle. "I like the Bordeaux," he said. "But right now I'm working my way through the California Cabs."

    Mr. Kosner, a former top editor at Newsweek, Esquire and New York magazine, bristles at being asked if he, too, has given up French wine.

    "The whole thing is hyperbolic and ridiculous," he says.

    "It's the content, the stories, the play, the headlines that we consider most essential," he added.

    In preparation for an interview, Mr. Kosner had filled a legal pad with examples in which The Post seemed to be reporting a war that was going far better for the American coalition than appeared to be the case in The Daily News.

    He questioned the lead headline in last Saturday's Post — "Surrender," followed by "Saddam's regime crumbling" — in light of recent events.

    "It's the quality of the candy that counts," Mr. Kosner said, "not the wrapper."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

    Default The Post vs. The Daily News

    Hard to believe the NY Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton. At one time it was the liberal counterpoint to The Daily News.

  3. #3
    Forum Veteran
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    Nov 2002
    New York City

    Default The Post vs. The Daily News

    Quote: from ZippyTheChimp on 8:29 am on Mar. 29, 2003
    Hard to believe the NY Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton. At one time it was the liberal counterpoint to The Daily News.
    And oh, how the tables have turned.

  4. #4


    For New Gossip in Town, Buzz and Drawn Daggers


    The gossip columnist Lloyd Gove greeting, from top, Mark Green, a former mayoral candidate; Cathleen Mcguigan, a Newsweek editor; and the publicist Bobby Zarem.

    The knives are already out for LLOYD GROVE.

    Spies were at a going-away party last month for Mr. Grove, hired away from The Washington Post to be the new prince of gossip for The Daily News. There, according to an item in JEANNETTE WALLS'S online gossip column on MSNBC and later picked up by The New York Post, KITTY KELLEY, the celebrity biographer, presented Mr. Grove with a voodoo doll bearing the likeness of one of his new competitors, LIZ SMITH, complete with pins. The gossip columns reported that Mr. Grove then said, deadpan, "I need more pins."
    Mr. Grove confirms that the doll exists, but says he made no such comment. When he asked JARED PAUL STERN, then a Page Six reporter, to retract the quote, Mr. Stern promptly turned him down, adding, "We will not rest until we send you back to Washington on a stretcher."

    Lowdown, Mr. Grove's new column, doesn't even make its debut in The News until tomorrow, but he knows that the pins were only the first of many sharp items waiting for him in New York. "That," he said, "was sort of my baptism by mud."

    The arrival of Mr. Grove on the crowded New York gossip scene is the latest bid by The News to siphon some buzz from its age-old rival The New York Post, which considers gossip a stock in trade. There is no small amount riding on Mr. Grove's shoulders: while The News continues to top The Post in average daily circulation, The Post has been narrowing that gap in recent years, particularly since it cut its newsstand price in the city to 25 cents in 2000.

    For The News, which has long sought to walk a journalistic tightrope between flip and sober, Mr. Grove's arrival comes amid other changes that at times appear to be tipping the balance toward flip.

    In recent months, readers have noticed that photographs of barely clad women have been showing up more frequently on or near Page 3. Some headlines have gotten racier too. One this summer read, "Kobe went all the way, her pal sez." And that was before The News staged its "sexiest local TV newscaster" reader survey.

    Mr. Grove, 48, spent years writing so-called "power profiles" for The Washington Post's Style section before taking on its Reliable Source column. He has never lived in New York City, other than during a summer in college, so he has to learn his way around its political corridors, fashion runways and dimly lighted clubs. He also has to face the murderers' row of gossip columnists at The New York Post: RICHARD JOHNSON of Page Six, Ms. Smith and CINDY ADAMS.

    "Lloyd Grover?" a puzzled assistant in Ms. Adams's office asked, apparently thinking this reporter was calling for the latest dish on "Sesame Street." "I have a feeling she has no idea who this person is."

    Not 20 seconds later, Ms. Adams returned the call to say that of course she knew of Mr. Grove, who once wrote an item about her. "He was eminently fair," she said.

    Any advice she might tuck inside a gossip columnists' welcome bouquet?

    "He'll need to learn how to pronounce Houston Street," she said, asking her interviewer to relay the message that it is "HOW-sten."

    The News already has a gossip column, written for nearly a decade by the husband-and-wife team of GEORGE RUSH and JOANNA MOLLOY. Mr. Grove's column will appear at least one page before Rush & Molloy on Tuesday through Thursday, and on Sundays. (Mr. Grove will be on his own on Mondays, while Rush & Molloy will have Fridays to themselves.)

    Mr. Rush, who has worked alongside other gossip columnists at The News, said he felt no discomfort at the new batting order.

    "In television, when you have a strong show like 'Seinfeld' and you try to introduce a new show, you put the new show before the established hit," he said. "I still think people will find the strength to turn the page."

    "He pretty much owned Washington gossipwise," Mr. Rush added. "I think it's got The Post all nervous."

    Others are not so sure.

    "I hope for Lloyd's sake he's a quick study," said Ms. Walls of MSNBC. "A lot of people have come to New York and found they don't know the players, they don't know the zeitgeist."

    "Just because he did a good job in Washington," she added, "doesn't mean the skills are transferable."

    Mindful of such gaps, Mr. Grove has spent many nights on the New York cocktail party circuit, chatting up ARIANNA HUFFINGTON on Monday at the home of TOM FRESTON, the chairman of MTV Networks, and huddling briefly on Wednesday night after the DAVE MATTHEWS concert with COL ALLAN, the fiercely competitive editor of The Post. ("Pleasantries were exchanged," Mr. Grove said.)

    At a party celebrating PETER JENNINGS's 20th anniversary as anchor of "World News Tonight," Mr. Grove met up with TINA BROWN, who invited him to her home the following evening. At that time, he was seated near ALLEN GRUBMAN, the lawyer, who insisted that Mr. Grove have lunch with his daughter LIZZIE. Which he did.

    Over lunch with a reporter at Michael's on Wednesday, in between table visits from the όber-publicist BOBBY ZAREM and the former mayoral candidate MARK GREEN, Mr. Grove confessed to opening-night jitters.

    "I will admit to having restless nights," he said. "I will admit to having bouts of terror."

    Which poses this question: How did a seasoned reporter who spent years writing widely read minibiographies of top Washington officials — people like ROGER AILES and ELLIOTT ABRAMS — end up penning 50-word squibs about such subjects as two young women, each bearing gifts, screaming at each other outside a congressman's home?

    Certainly his 6-foot-3-inch height is an unmistakable asset in gossip, enabling him both to see and be seen. But he has an admittedly hard time remembering people's names after meeting them. After the Dave Matthews concert, for example, he made a reference to "Kevin Whose-A-Call-It." (He meant KEVIN BACON.)

    He can also be shy. Twice, he has been seated within a few tables of CAROLINE KENNEDY at Michael's, the first time on a day when she had kicked off her apparently uncomfortable shoes and was barefoot. Yet, Mr. Grove did not approach. ("She's not a very public person," he explained.)

    If this were one of Mr. Grove's own pieces for the Style section, he might sift for clues in his subject's background — one that often had him and his family peering in at Hollywood and high society from the outside.

    His father, EDDY GROVE, was raised in the Bronx and moved to California in the 1950's with dreams of an acting career. But after landing only bit parts — one in the GLENN FORD movie "Fastest Gun Alive" — the elder Mr. Grove went into the insurance business. The family lived in an apartment on the edge of Beverly Hills, enabling Lloyd to attend Beverly Hills High.

    The elder Mr. Grove uprooted his family in the late 1960's and moved them to Greenwich, Conn., where they lived in another apartment. After graduating from Greenwich High, Lloyd Grove went on to Yale, where he spent much of his time at The Yale Daily News.

    After receiving his degree in English in 1976, he took a job at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and later moved on to The Dallas Morning News, where he wrote political and other profiles. An article about BOB WOODWARD, who was visiting Dallas to promote his book "The Brethren," ultimately led to an interview at The Post. He was hired in 1980 and worked as a feature writer, theater critic and campaign reporter.

    When the Reliable Source column came open in 1999, Mr. Grove said he did some serious soul-searching. "There is, after all, no Pulitzer Prize for gossip," he wrote two years ago in an article about his improbable career that appeared in The Post's Sunday magazine.

    But he found, somewhat to his surprise, that he loved such work. Not everyone would relish buttonholing BILL CLINTON at a Georgetown party, as Mr. Grove once did, brandishing a college term paper written by the president. "Gosh, you only got a B plus," Mr. Grove recalled saying to the president. Mr. Clinton reportedly replied, "But I got an A in the course."

    Occasionally, Mr. Grove has been the subject of a gossip item himself. In 2000, MITCHELL FINK reported in The News that Mr. Grove was dating AMY HOLMES, a political commentator whom he had touted in his column. (Mr. Grove's former wife, DIANA MORGAN, an editor at AOL, lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with their son and daughter, ages 15 and 12, who have already stayed overnight on the Aero beds in their father's one-bedroom apartment on Central Park West.)

    Along the way, Mr. Grove has gotten caught up in a few feuds, most dramatically with the actors SUSAN SARANDON and TIM ROBBINS. In a column in March, Mr. Grove quoted from an interview with Ms. Sarandon's mother, LENORA TOMALIN, who expressed little patience for the liberal politics of their "brainwashed" teenage son. As Mr. Grove later recounted in his column, Mr. Robbins, in a speech at the National Press Club, referred to "a sadistic creep who writes — or rather, scratches — his column with his fingernails in the dirt."

    But in general, Mr. Grove has a reputation for being among the more genteel of gossip columnists, which is one of the things that prompted MORT ZUCKERMAN to approach him at an Academy Awards party in April to ask him if he could be lured to New York.

    "I read The Washington Post every day, and I've read his column for years," Mr. Zuckerman said in an interview. "What I like about him is that his reporting about people is fair-minded, accurate and not mean-spirited."

    Mr. Grove said he initially resisted, but ultimately found Mr. Zuckerman's offer irresistible. Neither man will discuss Mr. Grove's salary.

    And what of Liz Smith? Will she be seeking retaliation for having her surrogate skin pierced as a religious offering on the eve of Mr. Grove's arrival?

    "I thought that was adorable," she said. "He'll need a lot of voodoo dolls, that's all I can say."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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