What the Times Is Seriously Doing About Attack of the Journal

With all the merry-making and fun-poking going around about The Wall Street Journal‘s open assault on The New York Times‘ metro coverage, it’s easy to forget the underlying marketing push the Times is undertaking as the Journal encroaches on its turf.

In addition to management’s light-hearted memo and NYT staffers’ sardonic celebrations, the Times is also pushing a serious narrative about its status within the New York media world.

One move that was clearly not intended as comedy: Bob Christie, the Timeslately aggressive publicist, carpetbombed New York’s media reporters with a PowerPoint presentation outlining the paper’s strengths in the face of the Journal‘s onslaught.

The 16-slide presentation, which Christie sent this morning in an email titled “READ BEFORE WSJ PRESSER,” outlines the Times‘ talking points in a PR push intended to ward off concerns over its dominance in New York. The presentation says, among other things:

• With 160 years of history, the Times is a New York institution. “New York is our middle name,” the presentation says.
• The Times has 19 million readers, counting print and online
• Perhaps there was a typo here, but the presentation says “The New York Times in print delivers an outstanding household net worth of almost $800 billion in the New York DMA alone.” We think the Times means its readers are rich; not that the paper is ultra-generous.
• Core readership figures indicate Times readers are engaged
Times readers are female. Maybe this is an appeal to the old marketing saw that women control household expenditures, but it certainly doesn’t do anything to counter the Journal‘s playful poke at Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger’s “girly” jaw line.
• The Times has won 114 Pulitzers
• Someone tweets a Times story every four seconds

This presentation recalls the mid-March ad campaign the Times rolled out in a preemptive strike against the Journal.

Even today’s chuckling memo from Sulzberger and Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson makes sure to mention a commercial for the paper that protests, “You don’t become the most respected news organization in New York overnight.”

Even as the mockery reaches a fever pitch, it’s worth noting that the Times is on some level taking the Journal‘s attack seriously, and fighting hard to remind its audience and advertisers that it’s still the biggest game in town.