Sun rises again in Gotham

Paper hopes to shed new light in N.Y.

NEW YORK — Hoping to be more than a neo-conservative novelty, the right-wing New York Sun bowed Tuesday with great expectations.

Founded and edited by former Wall Street Journal veteran Seth Lipsky and backed in part by Conrad Black, the paper has a circulation of 60,000 and vows to have a local focus.

As one could predict for a debut paper, content is a mixed bag. A story about a wine lover’s revolt against New York’s liquor laws shares the cover with an article on the demise of the Rolodex (it misspells the name of literary agent Andrew Wylie).

The paper makes some unorthodox editorial choices, giving front-page exposure to a Yankees game and a wire story about the largest ant colony ever found.

Arts coverage is a little more conventional, consisting of a calendar and reviews of books, art and opera.

To augment its international coverage, the Sun takes advantage of wires from its Conrad Black association, taking stories from the Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post — both properties of Hollinger Inc., of which Black is chairman.

While the paper has some generous patrons, the paper is no ad-grabber just yet: The New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. and traveling billboard company Streetblimps have taken space — as have some of managing editor Ira Stoll’s friend and relatives, to congratulate him on the daily.

But ABC Carpet & Home seems to represent the Sun’s most important account.

“Look at the market. It’s a tough retail environment,” says Charlie Rutman, president of Carat North America. “I don’t think media buyers will take it seriously for a while, and I don’t know if the Sun will have the time for them to take it seriously.”

But former London Sunday Times editor Harold Evans supports the paper. “It’s going to have impact,” says Evans, whose wife, Tina Brown, recently hosted a party for the Sun. Evans, now a consulting editor at the Week, said the city needs a counterpart to the New York Times. “These kinds of projects used to be called investments. Now it’s just, ‘They’re losing money.’ “

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