New York Sun: 2002-2008

Right-leaning daily New York Sun has published its much-anticipated final issue Tuesday, succumbing to financial difficulties seven years after taking up the flag of a conservative paper of the prior two centuries. A Zionist publication founded by a breakaway faction from the Forward, the Sun ended its run at the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It can't be said that the newspaper expected anything other than an uphill battle for survival. The creation of the Sun organization was delayed by the attacks of September 11, 2001 and came at a time when newspapers were already viewed as an endangered species. Losses mounted; if the conservative movement's identity crisis didn't doom the Sun, the Wall Street meltdown certainly did. Despite a 60 percent advertising spike in the paper's final month and a 25 percent increase this year, the paper could not find new investors, editor and co-founder Seth Lipsky told staff in comments reprinted in today's paper. The final issue revels in recent praise for the paper, its hard-won scoops and the peculiar moments one might expect amid such a quixotic effort. Some excerpts are after the jump.

From Lipsky's remarks to staff, excerpted in "Ideal Of The Scoop:"

[Closure] was always a risk, and all the greater is the heroism of our financial backers. Even at the end they were offering millions of dollars if we could find the partners we needed. I don't mind saying to you, as I have to them, that I very much regret - I will always regret - that we were not able to return to them the capital that they invested in us...

They invested in the ideal of the scoop, the notion that news is the spirit of democracy, and in the principles for which we have stood in our editorial pages - limited and honest government, equality under our Constitution and the law, free markets, sound money, and a strong foreign policy in support of freedom and democracy...

It is in the nature of things that there are going to be some jeers as we go out, as there were when we came in. Do not be discouraged by this... All of you will be able to tell your children and your grandchildren or simply your friends that not only did you appear in arms in a great newspaper war but that you did so on your own terms, for principles you believed in...

From "Picking Up The Flag Of The Sun:"

When the paper was launched, a reporter of the Washington Post had asked its editor, Seth Lipsky, how the Sun would be able to compete against the New York Times, which had "eighty reporters" on its metropolitan desk. The Times might have 80 reporters, he replied, but they missed the story that taxes are too high, that the reason there is an apartment shortage is rent control, and that vouchers are a movement to rescue minority children from failing schools...

on April 16, 2002, the first issue of the newspaper hit the streets, 18 pages priced at 50 cents. The lead story was an interview with Ahmad Chalabi, identified as "the leader of the free, democratic Iraqi opposition." Mr. Chalabi warned that the Bush administration's planning for a post-invasion Iraq was "abysmal."

The interview, a major scoop, was often cited by those who suggested the Sun was an uncritical supporter of the decision to go to ground in Iraq...

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the Sun's California-based national correspondent, Josh Gerstein, was stopped by security at an event and asked which newspaper he worked for. When he explained, the police phoned the newspaper and reached a receptionist, who, when asked whether the paper had a California bureau, responded no. Mr. Gerstein was promptly arrested and held for some hours until the confusion was sorted out, him no worse for the wear.

From the editorial "The Arc Of The Sun:"

The Bush tax cuts did unleash tremendous economic growth. Iraqis are building a better country in freedom. The expansion of charter schools in New York has improved educational outcomes. The Republican Party can nominate a presidential candidate who stands for welcoming immigrants to America...

We wouldn't want to overstate our accomplishments. We failed to make a profit, which was one of our goals. But neither would we want to understate our accomplishments. It is not nothing that when the Washington Post and the New York Times wanted to report on Arab oil money and monarchs funding the Clinton library, they quoted reporting by our Josh Gerstein. Or when the Wall Street Journal editorial page wanted to understand the roots of the financial crisis, it cited reporting by our Julie Satow.

Or that when President Bush nominated Michael Mukasey as attorney general after we suggested it in a New York Sun editorial, the White House quoted the front-page profile of the judge that had been written in the Sun by our Joseph Goldstein on the moment of his retirement...

We can only hope that some day in the future our own record will inspire some new generation of newspapermen and women with dreams to pick up the flag that today we put down. We hope it doesn't take 50 years for the next new start, but even if it does take that long, we hope that they have as much fun as we have had and meet with as much success.