Battle of the Barons!

The Times, uncharacteristically, has responded with a few jabs of its own. It poached arts reporter Kate Taylor, who had been working at The Journal for mere weeks on its New York section and who infuriated her old bosses at the News Corp. “People here are fucking furious,” said a Journal source at the time. “She knows all the plans.” Bob Christie, the PR chief at The Journal, left a few weeks ago to join up at Mr. Sulzberger’s shop.

In addition, The Times last month kicked off an ad campaign that argued The Times had a greater market share of local women readers than The Journal. For months, The Times’ public posture has been that it’s not worried about the upcoming section. 

Mr. Thompson responds. “I have absolutely no doubt that whatever magical metrics they’re looking [at] at The Times that The Journal, as it’s evolving, is developing a closer relationship with ever-larger number of women.”

Once the New York changes take effect, the business and finance paper of yore that will include a section that covers nightlife and gossip and local political and sports news. It will have stringers stationed throughout the tristate area covering suburban news.

“We’ve got five sports beat reporters, which is a big departure for The Journal,” said John Seeley, a former editor at The New York Sun who is the lead editor on the New York section.

Much of the Journal staff has no knowledge of the paper’s planned new section. It’s been so top secret that many staffers have told us that they’ll learn just as much about it as everyone else when it debuts on April 26.

The majority of people assigned to the section have been hired from outside the paper. Jacob Gershman, a familiar player in local political coverage, has been hired, but most of the three dozen other new reporters are not boldface names. The sports reporters come from the likes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Calkins newspaper chain. (Compare that to ESPN’s New York portal, which recently hired big names like Leon Carter and Adam Rubin, a longtime Mets reporter, or Wallace Matthews, a longtime writer for Newsday.)

“You want someone who brings energy and drive,” said Mr. Thomson. “It’s a good thing you haven’t heard of most of them.”

“We have a body of expertise,” said Mr. Thomson. “We brought in the best journalists in the region to write about the region. Readers are smart. They will make informed decisions about the value of this section. I have absolutely no doubt they will see the value. We will present them a choice, and they’ll decide accordingly. If we’re inadequate, they won’t buy the paper.”

jkoblin@observer.com