The Daily News and the New York Post do their fair share of flag-waving, at least compared to the more internationalist New York Times. But last week’s announcement that Michael Cooke was coming in to edit the News means that the top two managers at both city tabloids hail not from the good ol’ U.S. of A., but some other country.
That’s right: A foreign country (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Cooke hails from England, as does his boss, News deputy publisher and editorial director Martin Dunn. Over at the Post, publisher Lachlan Murdoch is, of course, Australian, but was born in London. Editor Col Allan also comes from Down Under. His predecessor, Xana Antunes, was from Scotland. Meanwhile, at the Times, publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. has Mt. Kisco listed as his birthplace, while editor Bill Keller’s is Palo Alto, California.
Aside from the odd chuckle when a Daily News editorial writes of “self-hating Americans,” what’s the significance of this pattern? It might have to do with the competitive mindset that develops when one grows up in the foreign media world.
“Newspapers now find it very, very difficult to compete on a hard-news agenda,” Dunn told me last month. “There are too many places that you can get breaking news.”
But while all newspapers are now threatened by the Internet and 24- cable channels, British newspapers have long faced a very crowded field.
On a given weekday, a Manhattan newsstand might feature the Times, News, Post, Sun, Newsday ,and Wall Street Journal. But its London counterpart will offer three broadsheets (The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and The Guardian), two broadsheets-turned-tabs (The Independent and The Times), and a host of tabloids including the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Record, the Daily Star, the Evening Standard, and The Sun. There are also several Sunday titles, and weekly newspapers like The Spectator.
With all those options, British editors long had a tougher fight for each reader than their American counterparts. Hence the tabs’ reliance on folks with a little foreign colour in their blood now that America’s dailies are facing tough competition from the Web and the tube.