Tensions between The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are on the rise as the two papers increasingly compete for the same pool of general-interest and local-market readers. A column by Times media critic David Carr accusing the Journal of slanting its news coverage in the conservative direction favored by owner Rupert Murdoch has drawn a sharp response from the Journal's managing editor, Robert Thomson -- who offers a pretty stinging accusation of his own.

Thomson says the article by "a Mr. David Carr" constitutes "yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat." He criticizes Carr for relying on "a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions" to make his case.
Further proof that the Times is hearing footsteps, says Thomson, were "the extraordinary actions of Mr Bill Keller, the Executive Editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism." I emailed Keller to ask him if he's familiar with the letter Thomson alludes to. His reply:
While David's column clearly got under Mr. Thomson's skin, I don't see anything in his response that casts doubt upon it. The column was scrupulously fair and, if anything, understated, and I have no inclination to help Mr. Thomson change the subject.
Note that he doesn't say anything about Thomson's accusation about the prize-committee letter. A Journal spokesman declined to comment further, so I called Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, to see if he knew anything. Gissler said the Pulitzer Prizes organization does not, as a rule, comment about any communications it receives.

Here's Thomson's full statement:
The news column by a Mr David Carr today is yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat. The usual practice of quoting ex-employees was supplemented by a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions. The attack follows the extraordinary actions of Mr Bill Keller, the Executive Editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism. Whether it be in the quest for prizes or in the disparagement of competitors, principle is but a bystander at The New York Times.

Robert Thomson,
Editor-in-Chief, Dow Jones.

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