At War With NYT, WSJ Editor Wants to Shock the Bourgeoisie

rage04262010.jpgReports from this morning’s presser inaugurating The Wall Street Journal‘s new New York metro section (you may have heard about it) are streaming in, and it looks like Journal managing editor Robert Thomson has his own take on the meaning of his paper’s latest salvo against The New York Times.

Lashing out against the “bourgeoisie” and media elites, Thomson called for a sustainable form of journalism, and urged readers to get the Times for free online, while subscribing to the Journal. (In a spirited blog post, the Times‘ David Carr highlighted the irony of railing against the privileged class to an audience that was “munching on quiche and salmon-dappled bagels.” We’ll add that the event was held at the Plaza hotel.)

In any case, the populist attitude appears real, and gels with the attitude of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Journal parent News Corp..

It’s an odd stance, considering that The Wall Street Journal‘s very name connotes an insular class of money-grubbing traders and rampant capitalists. On the other hand, the Journal‘s inaugural metro offering does eschew some of the hoity-toity high-handedness that is something of a trademark at the Times.

As the spitting contest progresses, it’ll be interesting to find out whether one side manages to convince its audience that it is the true standard bearer for New York. In the meantime, the name-calling is bound to create tensions. In trying to position itself as a challenger to the New York elite, the Journal has to overcome the ruthless image of its publisher and its capitalistic reputation. As it paints itself as the longstanding newspaper of choice among New Yorkers, the Times has to negotiate is effete reputation and at the same time continue persuading advertisers that its readers are rich and influential. We’ll see if New Yorkers can discern any meaningful messages amid all the dissonance.