On the evening of Thursday, March 26, staff members of The Brooklyn Paper gathered at their favorite Dumbo happy hour spot, a bar and restaurant called Superfine, for one last round of post-work drinks in the neighborhood the scrappy weekly broadsheet has called home for the past five years.
Editor in chief Gersh Kuntzman, looking quite reporterly in his ensemble of running sneakers, blue jeans and a purple button-down with the sleeves rolled up—neck tie undone—nursed a pint of Stella Artois while cracking jokes with the merry crew of employees surrounding him.
“See, all of Dumbo is pouring out their hearts for us!” he quipped as one of the bar’s owners handed out a send-off batch of complimentary drink tickets.
As The Observer first reported on March 10, Rupert Murdoch has purchased The Brooklyn Paper from Ed Weintrob, its founder and owner of 31 years. Over the past week, its 10 employees have been packing up their Dumbo digs at 55 Washington Street. Starting Monday, they’ll be working out of Bruce Ratner’s MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn, where they will share space with the competing weekly newspaper chain Courier-Life, also their News Corp. brethren.
Speaking to The Observer‘s John Koblin a few weeks ago, Mr. Weintrob said he didn’t perceive News Corp.’s ownership as a threat to The Brooklyn Paper’s longtime tradition of independence. But we couldn’t help but wonder how Mr. Kuntzman and his staff felt about moving from a fun, casual and, of course, messy work environment to the presumably sterile confines of One MetroTech Center, the same complex that houses JPMorgan Chase and Forest City Ratner. Like, will the reporters even be allowed to wear sneakers to work anymore???
Mr. Kuntzman wouldn’t comment except to say, “People say MetroTech is soulless. But we’ve got soul and we’re gonna bring it!” But he has been scouting out new social spots, like a nearby Irish Pub where, he said, one gets $2 off lunch if a beer is purchased with it. “We’ve already discovered places we’re gonna give The Brooklyn Paper treatment to,” he said.
Mr. Kuntzman also couldn’t say what it would be like working in such close proximity to a competitor, let alone one owned by the same parent company. Nevertheless, he offered nothing but praise for his new employer.
“Newspapers are in a difficult position, and here’s a guy who’s going to bat for us. That’s gotta be a shot in the arm,” he said. “We’re now a part of the most powerful newspaper family in the world. You can’t underestimate how excited we are!”