In Which Two Rivals May Marry

Beatrice and Benedict. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Looks like another couple may soon be engaging in the classic love story that is They Hated Each Other Before They Loved Each Other. Or, more specifically, that even more classic love story: They Hated Each Other Before They Decided to Tolerate Each Other. The Times reports today that the New York Post and the New York Daily News may soon—tale as old as time…song as old as rhyme—join as one. Yep: Merger! Marriage! Of convenience!

Well, sorta. The papers’ business operations, anyway, might merge. (Might, because nothing’s been finalized yet. The talks between the rival tabloids are “preliminary,” the Times notes; Murdoch and Zuckerman have yet to meet; merger plans, which have been in the works since May, are “at a delicate stage and both sides had hoped they would remain confidential.”) The cooperation would fall short of a full joint operating agreement; if it goes through, the two papers would consolidate printing, distribution, “and other back-office functions.” The editorial outfits would remain separate—which means, we hope, that the famous rivalry between the two papers would live on. Hey, marrying someone doesn’t mean you have to like them.

This isn’t the first time the papers have attempted such a merger—“in 1999, the papers held exploratory talks,” the Times notes, “and the issue has been broached at various times over the years”—but the desire to join has now “become more urgent, given the sagging economics of the industry.” The whole thing is a matter, of course, as marriages of convenience generally are, of money. Combining their business operations would cut costs at both papers. This is particularly of interest to the Post, which hemorrhages roughly $50 million a year. (The Daily News generally breaks even.)

A win-win? Maybe. Still, as Gawker had it, “Perhaps, before any partnership goes through, a study of sectarian rivalries in Iraq is in order, if only as a cautionary example.”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.