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Prize-winning Newsday inches toward Manhattan from its Long Island base

While most suburban newspapers brace themselves as nearby dailies encroach on their lucrative territory, in New York City the situation is just the reverse.

Here newspapers are eyeing the advance of a prize-winning paper from Long Island as it continues its steady march into Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

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Newsday is a tabloid-size paper that has tucked eight Pulitzer prizes under its belt since 1954 -- including two awarded last week. It has recently built its New York edition staff -- distinct from its Long Island edition -- from 60 to 90 employees.

Although Newsday management says it is focusing on increased circulation in Queens, since April 15 more newsstands in Brooklyn and Manhattan carry the paper. There is a television ad campaign and a special introductory newsstand price of 20 cents, both aimed at piquing New Yorkers' interest in the paper, which is owned by the Time Mirror Company of Los Angeles.

It's one of New York's four daily papers, says an aide to one of the city's top politicians, when asked how important Newsday's incursion has become.

A sometimes spicy newspaper war among the city's two daily tabloids, the New York Daily News and the New York Post, already is under way. The battle even includes an occasional swipe at the venerable New York Times.

The Post, owned by Australian newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch, is known for its screaming headlines, its conservative editorial positions, and coverage that tends to favor disasters, crime, and scandal.

Observers give the Daily News credit for less sensationalism and better local coverage.

The New York Times is seen by most as one of the best papers in the world, particularly in its national and international coverage. Its local coverage is considered fine as far as it goes, but it is not too extensive, say some press watchers.

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Newsday editor Anthony Insolia says he sees his daily as a solid metropolitan paper somewhere between the Daily News and the Times. Its emphasis is on giving readers ``what they have to know to live in today's world,'' he says.

Richard Cunningham, a professor of journalism at New York University and formerly assistant director of the now defunct National News Council, points out that a borough like Brooklyn does not now have a newspaper that gives the kind of local coverage that helps citizens make intelligent civic decisions.

Can Newsday find success seeking a similar audience in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens? Cunningham says he thinks it can.

``I'm salivating,'' he says, adding he's more than ready to plunk down 30 cents for a newspaper that offers intelligent material on local issues.

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