Commuter Editions Pit Journal versus Post

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

Commuter Editions Pit Journal versus Post


Byline: Chris Baker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Journal Newspapers to The Washington Post: Drop dead.

The publisher of the Journal, a newspaper chain in the Washington suburbs, said yesterday he was "astounded" to learn The Washington Post plans to target commuters with a new weekday tabloid called the Express, a name he says the Journal owns.

"We're going to sue their [backside] off," said Ryan Phillips, president and publisher of the Journal. Later, he said he was consulting his lawyers and "investigating" his alternatives.

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Phillips said, is that the Post tried to steal the Journal's thunder by announcing the free commuter paper the day after the Journal said it would begin giving its papers away at Metro stations.

On Thursday, Mr. Phillips said he e-mailed a press release to the Post, The Washington Times and other media announcing that free copies of the Journal would be available at Metro stops and park-and-ride lots beginning July 21.

The Post announced the introduction of the Express in an article in yesterday's Business section. The article said the Post would give the Express away at Metro stops in early August. It did not mention the Journal's plan to give its papers to commuters.

"You draw your own conclusions" about the timing of the Post's announcement, Mr. Phillips said.

Christopher Ma, a Washington Post Co. vice president who will serve as publisher of the Express, said he did not learn of the Journal's plan to give its papers away until yesterday. "I read it in [their] newspaper," he said.

The skirmish is reminiscent of the New York tabloid wars. The New York Post and the New York Daily News are fierce competitors, routinely attacking each other and trying to steal readers with outlandish headlines such as "Ford to City: Drop Dead," a classic Daily News banner from 1975.

Journal Newspapers Inc. …

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