David Remnick's remembrance, in the New Yorker, of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee includes this account:
I was summoned to see Bradlee. His office had an aquarium-like aspect, with a glass wall facing the newsroom, the better for everyone there to study his every move. I came into his office, warily, and approached the great orca. His feet were on the desk and he was leaning way back in his chair, practically parallel to the floor. I had a great view of the soles of his loafers. He put down a copy of the Times. It was a slow news day. He had been doing the crossword puzzle.
The anecdote made me chuckle, because I remember that 20 or 25 years ago, when I used to sometimes see Bradlee strutting through Harvard Square (he was there to prepare for his 50th reunion, or at his 50th reunion, or to speak at the Kennedy School, or something like that), the newspaper that he always had tucked under his arm was not the Post, but the Times.
The stories for which he was remembered — the Pentagon Papers, Watergate — were ones on which the Post and the Times were competing fiercely.
This competitive dynamic — in which one company's management has an almost obsessive eye on what the rival company is doing — is a feature of free markets that goes well beyond the journalism business. It can be destructive at times (newspapers competing to create a scandal where there is none), but at its best, like a great sports rivalry (think Celtics-Lakers, or Yankees-Red Sox) it drives both competitors to higher levels of excellence.