When I left the world of full-time, free-lance literary journalism a few years ago I didn’t realize I’d nimbly leapt from the Titanic onto a lifeboat — I had been too busy bailing water to notice. Since then, three of the papers I wrote for regularly — the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle — have drastically cut back their pages. Other sections across the nation have folded altogether.
Who would have guessed that Rupert Murdoch (net worth: $6.3 billion) would offer a reprieve? Just when you thought online amazon reviews or tweets might be swamping over the literary world, it appears the Wall Street Journal is launching an all go-to-hell pull-out book section later this month.
It’s true. It’s true. The New York Observer heard it from its WSJ sources, Forbes heard it from the NYO — and now I pass it onto you. The editor will be Robert Messenger, one of he founding editors of the New York Sun (if he’s the one who brought Adam Kirsch to its pages, that in itself recommends him), and the number of pages will be “significant.”
Forbes attributes the decision to Murdoch’s legendary hatred of the Gray Lady:
In fact, Murdoch hates the NYT so much that his quest to destroy it has been described as “Ahab-like” and certainly has the coin to finance his hunt for the, er, gray whale. The majority of the changes at the WSJ over the past 3 years (Murdoch bought the paper in the summer of 2007) can only be understood in terms of positioning the paper as a NYT-killer. Why else a new Metro section focused on New York City, or the beefed up editorial staffing at foreign bureaus? The Times books coverage is world renowned. Of course Rupert is going to attack it.