By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The New York Sun, a scrappy, conservative Manhattan daily only six years old, may be forced to shut down by the end of this month if it cannot raise more capital, the paper's editor said yesterday.
The Sun was launched in April 2002, funded by a group of investors led by former newspaper mogul Conrad Black, who in March began serving a 78-month prison term after being convicted of defrauding his company. Black's company, Hollinger International, sold its stake in the Sun after he was ousted as Hollinger chairman in 2004 and has no ties to the paper.
The Sun plans to publish a front-page letter to its readers today explaining the paper's dim financial prognosis.
"We are not profitable, and we're a long way from it," Sun editor Seth Lipsky said in an interview yesterday, adding that the paper has been losing money since its inception. Even though advertising revenue has risen, Lipsky said, the gains have been overwhelmed by rising costs.
Lipsky said the paper's investors are committed to continue backing the Sun if new capital can be found, a process that is underway.
The Sun has always been outmanned and outgunned by the New York Times and the other big Gotham dailies, but it has carved out a niche for itself with arts and political coverage and is thought of as a lively place to work for bright, aspiring young journalists.
The Sun nicked the Times in 2003 when it broke the news of a historian who questioned the validity of a Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Times in 1932. The Times admitted that the work was not prizeworthy, though the Pulitzer was not revoked.
The Sun has a staff of 110 in addition to numerous freelancers. Daily paid circulation is 13,000, and the paper gives away an additional 75,000 copies per day.
The Sun took its name from the storied New York daily of the same name that existed from 1833 to 1950.