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Memo to Murdoch -- WSJ: Flatlands Is in Brooklyn, Not the Bronx

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Ok, so it isn't on par with Judith Miller putting bogus nuclear weapons in Iraq in The New York Times, but today's front page of the Wall Street Journal's Metro section had a center picture with a headline reading: "Standoff in the Bronx."

One problem is that the Flatlands is in Brooklyn, not the Bronx, about an hour away on the subway.

Unfortunately this gaffe, since corrected on the webpage, exemplifies what critics have been saying about the new WSJ Metro section. They don't know New York City or whether the Flatlands is in the Bronx or Brooklyn. It's a bit light on hard news about the city, preferring cultural interests and soft real-estate bits about Manhattan while often neglecting the outer boroughs.

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One critic, Michael Wolff, asked a while ago, "Is the WSJ Turning In Its Grave?":

The Wall Street Journal has been covering New York City with a dedicated metro section and staff for a week now -- and boy is it ghastly. Inside what is still one of the best papers in the world, the new section is a discordant and confounding presence -- which may account for the eerie or sheepish quiet about the thing. Everybody's abashed.

Try this lead: "The mounted patrol officer who put himself between a smoking car bomb and a crowd of people in Times Square -- despite being months from retirement -- says he was just doing his job."

It's a museum of insipid newspaper-isms.

I like the WSJ metro page; it has juicy items about the Manhattan private school scene, and good gossip pieces, mainly about Manhattan. But it doesn't really have the hard news sources of, say, the Daily News or the Post.

This morning I left messages with John Seeley, the section editor, and Sean Gardiner, the reporter, but they have not called back.

I wanted to know how this could happen, and how many editors and copywriters had checked the front page before it was printed.

Write to Blake Fleetwood: Jfleetwood@aol.com