Are The Washington Post and The New York Times Practicing Collusion?

September 14th, 2005 2:14 PM

Editor & Publisher reports on a cozy little deal made by The Washington Post and The New York Times in which the two MSM giants let each other know in advance what their most important product - the Front Page - will be, every day.

"As part of a secret arrangement formed more than 10 years ago, the Post and Times send each other copies of their next day's front pages every night. The sharing began as a courtesy between Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and former Times Executive Editor Joseph Lelyveld in the early 1990s and has continued ever since.
"'It seemed logical, because for years we would always try to get a copy of each other's papers as soon as they came out,' Downie tells E&P. 'It made sense to both of us to make it simpler for everybody.' Lelyveld, who left the Times in 2001, declined comment."

In any other industry, this would be called "collusion" and the Times and Post editorial pages would be in high dudgeon, demanding anti-trust investigations by the Department of Justice. Go here for the full E & P report.

Can you imagine what the outrage would be if it were Microsoft and Apple exchanging their product plans every day? Or GM and Ford?

What else have the Post and Times decided to play nice with each other on? After all, it wasn't that long ago that the two papers co-owned The International Herald Tribune. Have they divided up national advertising accounts? Agreed on who would cover which government agencies aggressively? Coordinated recruiting operations? Exchanged lists of favored politicos and lists of those targeted for tough treatment?

Cross-posted at Tapscott's Copy Desk.