NY Post circulation win sparks war of words

The circulation battle between the
New York Daily News and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post – which The Post
at least for now can claim to be winning – is turning into a nasty name-calling,
mud-slinging slanging match, with
few holds barred.

The latest
circulation figures put the NY Post for the first time ahead of the Daily News
by about 10,000 copies. The jubilation could be heard around the
city. The paper itself came out
with a big headline: "Thank you, New York". It splashed the news on a Times Square electronic
billboard, and Langan’s Bar, where most of the Post's staff hang out was
packed with carousing employees.

Not surprisingly, the Daily
News countered by claiming The Post had only been able to boost its figures by
virtually giving the paper away — cutting its price to the bone. Officially it sells for 25 cents, that's
half the price of The News – but under special trial promotions it can be home-delivered for eight
weeks for as little as $2 – the equivalent of just over a pound.

There were also charges that Rupert Murdoch was happily paying out millions of dollars just
to keep the paper alive. Daily News editor-in-chief Martin Dunn said: “If you
lost $300 million over the past five years, spent $200 million on new
presses, carpet-bombed neighbourhoods with free copies and lost a fortune to sell a few thousand
copies in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, you’d be desperate to celebrate creeping a
few copies ahead of us.”

Dunn, who used to work for Murdoch in London and Boston, even suggested in an interview with the NY
Times that "Rupert must be getting soft in his old age".

The Post’s editorin-chief,
former Australian newsman Col Allen, countered with just one word: “Nonsense”.

Although he declined to say how much
money The Post is losing
each year, he did predict that it would start turning a profit – in a year or two.

He was much
more forthright in what he sees as the difference between the NY Post and other
American dailies. He minced no
words. “They are boring as bat
shit” he declared. Virtually
all other major daily papers in the United
States have lost circulation in the past six
months – and that includes USA
Today, the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. By comparison, the Post’s daily sales climbed five per
cent – to a record 704,000.

Needless to say, Rupert Murdoch was delighted at the news. He called from
London and told Allen to buy drinks
for everyone.

One report that Allen declined to confirm is the story
that under his contract he would be paid a million dollar bonus if The Post ever
overtook The News. "That would be
great, but it's not true" he insisted.
Allen’s salary is said
to be $600,000 a year.

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