in New York
But will we need a flashlight to find it? Read on.
By Jeff Bercovici
On the face of it, it looks like the unlikeliest of propositions: a new daily newspaper with a conservative viewpoint in a town populated overwhelmingly by liberals, a town that already has more papers than it can support, in the middle of one of the worst media recessions in history.
But that’s exactly what Seth Lipsky, a former editor of Jewish weekly The Forward, intends to do.
Early 2002 will see the launch of the New York Sun, a new broadsheet published five times a week, edited by Lipsky and backed by a group of investors that includes Canadian press mogul Conrad Black.
Lipsky has so far kept silent about his vision for the paper, leaving unanswered such questions as what its initial circulation will be, who will be responsible for business-side operations, and how he plans to compete in a market that already offers two conservative dailies, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, and a conservative weekly, the New York Press.
Assisting Lipsky in running the Sun will be Ira Stoll, formerly his underling at The Forward and now editor of SmarterTimes.com, a web site that purports to expose the unspoken liberal bias and other journalistic flaws of The New York Times.
A typical SmarterTimes piece that ran yesterday criticized the Times for publishing a news article about the debate over taxi fares without soliciting comment from a "free-market economist."
Stoll followed Lipsky when the latter, an outspoken neoconservative, was forced out from The Forward by the paper’s more liberal board of directors.
Backing the Sun will be a group of about 10 investors who have reportedly pledged $15 million to the effort—a small sum, even given the paper’s plans to save startup costs by farming out printing and distribution.
On that kind of budget, the Sun won’t pose much of a threat to existing New York dailies, says Ed Atorino, a newspaper analyst for Wasserstein Perella & Co.
"No matter what they do they are not going to be a major player in New York," he says.
"Fifteen million dollars can go a long way if they’ve got 20 guys in an office with a couple of computers, I guess. It sounds like a nice ego trip, which is fine, but I don’t know where they’re going to get the ad dollars from when the Times and the Journal are getting killed."
In an interview with the New York Observer, Michael Steinhardt, vice chairman of The Forward and one of the investors behind the Sun, denied that the paper would necessarily have a rightward slant.
"I don’t know that I’d call it ‘conservative,’" said Steinhardt, who is known as a benefactor of the Democratic Party.
But the vice chairman of Hollinger International, Conrad Black’s company, told The New York Times that the Sun will be "certainly neoconservative in its ideological views."
Neoconservatism is a strain of political thought first articulated in the 1960s and 1970s that places particular emphasis on limited government and free markets.
Through Hollinger, Black owns the Chicago Sun-Times, the London Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.
He will own 12.5 percent of the New York Sun.
Black has been maneuvering for years to get his hands on a New York paper, making an unsuccessful play for the New York Daily News in 1992 and for the Observer in 1999.
The original New York Sun was published from 1833 to 1950. In 1897, it ran an editorial that introduced the phrase "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" into the lexicon.
November 30, 2001 © 2001 Media Life
-Jeff Bercovici is a staff writer for Media Life.