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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

And if General Motors, Ford Exchanged Their Product Plans Each Day?

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? Hertz and Avis?

Are there other areas in which the Post and Times decided to play nice with each other? After all, it wasn't that long ago that the two papers co-owned The International Herald Tribune, so there is precedent for extensive cooperation.

They often compete on many fronts despite being in two different cities. Two such examples that come immediately to mind are national advertising accounts and, of course, national politics and government.

So the public should know if these two media giants have secretly divided up national advertising accounts? Agreed on who would cover which government agencies most aggressively? Coordinated recruiting operations? Exchanged lists of favored politicos and of those targeted for tough treatment?

After all, what's the difference between a "gentleman's agreement" to fix gasoline prices and two gentlemen in the media agreeing to tell each other their biggest trade secret, every day?

UPDATE:

Thanks to all the Instapundit folks who pointed out my mis-spelling of dudgeon in the original posting. As you can see, it is now fixt. :)