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The New York Post: Profitless Paper In Relentless Pursuit

The tabloid may be in the red, but it's determined to beat the Daily News

Once upon a time, the newspaper war was as common a ritual of civic combat as the mayoral election or the crosstown high school football game. The inexorable decline of newspaper reading has left even most big U.S. cities with a single daily. The glaring exception is New York City, home to four of the 15 largest papers. The huge circulation gain logged of late by the oldest of them -- the New York Post -- has escalated its archrivalry with the Daily News into the sort of apocalyptic struggle not seen since William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer locked egos a century ago.

This latter-day war also features two high-profile personalities: Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp. (NWS ), owner of the Post, and real estate developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News. This is a mismatch. Zuckerman is a billionaire, but his pockets are not nearly as deep as Murdoch's, and neither is his media expertise. With $22 billion in revenues, News Corp. is so big that the Post's budget amounts to a rounding error. Even so, the tabloid looms large in Murdoch's calculations as News Corp.'s print megaphone in the media industry's capital city and as a proving ground for his son and heir apparent, Lachlan K. Murdoch, the Post's 33-year-old publisher.