Sunset clause

Lost in the excitement this week was the announcement that the New York Sun will close after seven years. Sad news, but I prefer to be grateful for the many excellent editions of the Sun I read on visits to New York City and for the home it provided to some valued colleagues.

The Sun was an unusual blend of ambition and modesty. Publishing a newspaper in Manhattan, even on a small scale, is inevitably a cheeky undertaking. But the Sun turned its small scale into an asset: it was almost a family operation with none of the institutional coldness of larger news organizations. Reading it, I was reminded of no other paper so much as Le Devoir, a comparison that would have horrified staffers at both papers, but which I mean as a compliment to both.

Of course the Sun was a conservative combat paper, a quixotic strategy in the most liberal city in America during what turned out to be a period of Republican decline. Take its editorial line or leave it, at least it showed more style, lightness and humour than papers like the Washington Times. As a rule I’d skip the editorial pages and go straight to the arts pages, which featured great writers like Will Friedwald.

The Sun was so atypical that its disappearance offers no grand lessons for the print news industry. It had a good run; didn’t make much of a splash; leaves the stage gracefully. I just wanted to mark its passing.