Media News

New York Sun newspaper could close by end of September

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Sun, a daily newspaper launched six years ago as an often conservative-leaning alternative to The New York Times, may stop publishing by the end of September unless it gets additional financial backing.

The paper, which began publishing in 2002, has been losing substantial amounts of money, Sun editor Seth Lipsky wrote in a letter to readers published on the paper’s website on Wednesday. The losses reflected advertising declines that are hurting nearly every U.S. newspaper amid wider economic problems such as the U.S. housing market slump and the global credit crisis.

“Our losses, which are substantial, have been covered so far by a group of investors whom we would call heroic. And they are prepared to continue to back the enterprise with new capital,” Lipsky wrote. “But as costs rise and the advertising market for newspapers generally tightens, keeping the Sun alive and moving it toward self-sufficiency will require broadening the base of investors beyond the original group.”

The letter did not say how much the privately held paper needed, but a source at the paper said the editors told employees Wednesday that it required a commitment of at least $10 million. Managing Editor Ira Stoll declined to comment on that figure.

“In recent months, we have had discussions with a number of newspaper proprietors and other potential investors about possible combinations or investment relationships,” Lipsky wrote in the letter. “Some of those are continuing. There is no assurance that any of our discussions will be successful, but we are hopeful.”

Stoll declined to name any of the possible investors or publishers.

The Sun is co-owned by Lipsky, Stoll and a group of investors whom Stoll declined to name. Previous reports have named hedge fund operator and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt as an investor, as well as Bruce Kovner, founder and chairman of hedge fund Caxton Associates LLC and chairman of conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

The paper publishes five days a week and has a circulation of about 70,000, far lower than the million or so copies that the Times has.

Unlike the Times, which covers the United States and the world with large reporting teams, the Sun focuses more on the New York City area, though it also covers politics, foreign policy and the arts.

Many readers regard the Times’s editorial pages as carrying a more liberal tilt on U.S. politics and foreign policy, while the Sun is a conservative alternative. Lipsky in his letter characterized its stance as “unpredictable.”

New York is a crowded city for daily papers. The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and New York Daily News, owned by Boston Properties Chairman Mortimer Zuckerman, slug it out daily in a tabloid war dominated by racy headlines as well as intense local coverage.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Tomasz Janowski