The financial reports of the New York Times Co. yesterday were predictably awful. Print ad revenue was cratering even before the stock market collapsed, so it's hard to see any turnaround in the near future. And as if the economy itself isn't giving the Times enough problems, they're also dealing with Rupert Murdoch trying to crush them, advertising-wise, in a pincer grip; the Wall Street Journal is falling on their head, and the New York Post is coming right up their ass. Rupert made a lot of noise about taking on the Times directly when he bought the WSJ. But he has a big advantage: another major newspaper in the same market. So while the WSJ is trying to steal away the NYT's high-end advertisers (and succeeding)—luxury watchmakers, Tiffany & Co., expensive liquors, and corporations running "message" ads—the other News Corp. paper, the unprofitable Post, is competing with the Times for middlebrow advertisers and upper middle class retailers in New York City—Bergdorf Goodman, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, car dealerships, cell phone companies.

Owner Rupert Murdoch's expansion of general news coverage [at the WSJ] and a new lifestyle magazine are starting to attract wealthy consumers and create ad space for retailers, said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of Luxury Institute LLC. ``They certainly have become a significant part of the advertising mix for luxury brands where they were not before,'' said Pedraza, whose New York research group tracks the market for the most expensive lines of consumer goods and services. ``They're definitely stealing advertising dollars.''

News Corp. has an inherent advantage. Plus, Rupert has shown a willingness to lose huge sums of money in newspaper wars, as the Post has been doing for years. Maybe the Times should go tabloid, go weekly, and run lots of sex ads and crush the Village Voice. Just for self-esteem! [Bloomberg; pic via Daylife]