WSJ Now Resembling Small-Town Weekly

Future fountains make a splash at Journal's new New York section

The Wall Street Journal launched its New York City section this week amidst a slew of newspaper-war headlines as Rupert Murdoch took aim at the hated New York Times by reconstituting the defunct 13,000 circulation New York Sun.

After seeing the first week of Greater New York, I don’t think The New York Times is shaking in its boots.

Today, the section front is dominated by a story about a donation for fountains at the Met. Really. This is The Wall Street Journal, now.

Even more embarrassing is the story’s fawning treatment of the donation. Here’s the headline:

Met Gets ‘Spectacular’ Facelift

First, the Met hasn’t gotten anything yet. The Journal doesn’t even have the requisite architectural rendering. That would be because the architect hasn’t even been picked yet. Instead the paper has a picture of Lincoln Center’s fountains, which “inspired” right-wing billionaire David H. Koch to give $10 million for the project.

Something tells me the Sun/Journal wouldn’t have done this puff piece if George Soros had given $10 million for a new chandelier at MOMA. And it surely wouldn’t have used the language it does here:

Inspired by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, billionaire David H. Koch is planning a “spectacular” remake of the fountains…

Is this The Onion?

Mr. Koch said he was inspired to spearhead the effort to renovate the outdoor space after seeing the new Lincoln Center fountain, which opened in October and features “choreographed” water effects. “They had water shooting 50 feet in the air, flooding the plaza,” he said, recalling that fountain’s unveiling. “I was mesmerized.”

That evening, Mr. Koch cornered Met President Emily Rafferty. “I went right up to her—I was so fired up—and I said, ‘Emily, I want to recreate those fountains!’ “

Man, I can’t wait to see the treatment the Journal gives the ribbon-cutting.

Whatever you think about the Journal’s strategy of spreading into general-interest, and now, local news—and we don’t like it—the bar for stories should be a lot higher than this.

Like, if you get a hot tip on the upcoming PS 205 swap meet, maybe take a pass on that one.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.