the New York Sun launched in April 2002, its mission was to become the
conservative alternative to The New York Times. Of course, it would be
smaller, considerably so, with a very targeted audience. But its voice
would be big. Folks who mattered would read it.
Or that was the idea, and as ideas for newspapers go an
interesting one. But the Sun has largely failed in its mission. If
anything, it has tried to be all things to all
people, and in so doing has come to seem a me-too of the Times,
rather than a challenger, publishing the general interest fare already
available in the city’s other big dailies.
It's also been dogged by rumors of financial woes.
To survive the Sun needs to change, and to that end a top editor
has written a prescription for doing so as part of a lengthy critique of
the paper. Unfortunately for the Sun, the memo popped up
yesterday on Gawker.com, the media blog, bringing yet further
embarrassment to the paper.
The import of the memo, by deputy managing editor Robert Messenger to Sun
editor Seth Lipsky and managing editor Ira Stoll: The Sun is foundering
and must dramatically reposition to get closer
to being the conservative paper of record as it originally intended.
It cannot be all things to all people, it must be something
special to certain people.
Messenger calls for cutting some $500,000 in
staff salaries while refocusing coverage on opinion and editorial, local
news and the arts.
also suggests scaling back either the sports or business sections, neither
of which takes up much room in the paper, or perhaps cutting one
most of all, he says, the paper needs to get back to its original mission.
Sun offers many of the features of a general interest daily; however it
is, in fact, more of niche product catering to a specific audience with
equally specific features and benefits. ...
we accept the niche strategy, which was the initial premise of the Sun, we
need to determine what the focus of the paper will be.”
Sun’s money problems have been well publicized. Last year the paper got
a $30 million infusion, but it has yet to turn a profit.
paper launched with an initial distribution of 60,000 per day, but that
has shrunk by a quarter, to a reported 45,000. The Sun is currently on
voluntary temporary suspension with the Audit Bureau of Circulations
because it was unable to complete an audit of its circulation. The paper has blamed the software it
used to track circulation.
New York Sun launched three years ago with the backing of Conrad Black, the
now-disgraced Hollinger mogul, and other investors who liked the idea of a
new conservative voice in liberal New York.
and Stoll, two veterans of New York Jewish weekly The Forward, have been
with the paper since its launch.
leaked memo includes names of staffers Messenger thinks should be cut,
though Gawker removed them from its post. That surely won’t help the
morale Messenger complains about.
returned to a newsroom full of depressed people, wondering what is going
on and if the paper is failing. Morale is low and I think we have no idea
where we are headed. ...
than deciding what we don’t want in the paper, we should look at what we
want, what are the anchors of the product that we can build a core