Well, they’re almost here. On Tuesday Jan. 15, The New
York Sun, New York City’s conservative-leaning, next daily newspaper,
officially announced itself to the world as a defender of, among other things,
“lower taxes and school choice.”
But while many pieces of Sun
gossip were publicly confirmed by the announcement-boldface investors like
Conrad Black; Ira Stoll and Seth Lipsky as the paper’s editor and managing
editor, respectively-it failed to mention when the paper might be coming out.
Sources told Off the Record that The Sun was hoping for a mid-March arrival,
but Mr. Stoll was more vague. “We’re saying spring,” he said. “It’s kind of
like the special forces moving into Afghanistan. You don’t want to exactly say
when you’re coming in.”
The paper has hired some reporters, however: Rachel P. Kovner, a
2001 Harvard Crimson editor who has written for Mr. Stoll’s New York Times -critiquing Web site
Smartertimes.com and is the daughter of Sun
investor Bruce Kovner, as well as Ben Smith, a former stringer for The Wall
Street Journal Europe , who also has contributed to the Web site.
“We’ve hired four people,” Mr. Lipsky said. He said the other two
were his longtime personal assistant, and someone to help set up the computers.
“But we’ve been inundated with résumés, hundreds of them. We’re in the process
of working through them.”
Sources said, Mr. Lipsky and Mr. Stoll have also reached out to
Seth Mnookin-the former Inside.com
media writer who worked for the pair at their previous incarnation, Forward . Neither Mr. Mnookin nor Mr.
Stoll, however, would comment on the situation.
Sources also said the paper might turn to some outside columnists
to help fill their pages. One name mentioned was Caroline Baum-a columnist
covering bonds for Bloomberg News. A longtime Federal Reserve watcher, she was
once described by Alan Greenspan as “the only person who can make the
flattening of the yield curve sound pornographic.”
When asked for comment, Ms. Baum said, “I really have no idea.
You’d have to ask Seth Lipsky or Ira Stoll about it.” Mr. Lipsky confirmed his
appreciation of Ms. Baum’s work, but declined to say if her byline would appear
in the paper.
“I’m a huge fan of Caroline Baum,” Mr. Lipsky said, “Huge. But we
haven’t hired her and we haven’t subscribed to her column.”
In the meantime, there are plenty of other issues left to solve.
The skeleton staff has barely moved into the paper’s offices at 105 Chambers
Street. Mr. Lipsky said they were still unsure where the paper would be
printed, how many pages an average issue will be and how much it would cost.
The Sun’s team of investors are reportedly putting up $15 million to launch the
paper, a figure some skeptics have found paltry for a daily start-up.
“All I can say is that it’s
risky and it’s worth the risk,” Mr. Lipsky said of the financial naysayers.
“I’m here and I’m doing it.”
Throughout the dot-com boom, Jason McCabe Calacanis
played the part of P.T. Barnum, hyping New York Internet companies to the high
heavens in the pages of his magazine, Silicon
Alley Reporter , and his handful of e-mail newsletters.
When it came to self-promotion, Mr. Calacanis was no slouch,
either. But there is the possibility of doing something too well. For example,
take an Oct. 8 story in The New York
Times . The news was that Mr. Calacanis had decided to stop publishing Silicon Alley Reporter and instead
launch Venture Reporter , a magazine
that would chronicle venture-capital deals and trends. It’s a canny move; after
all, with nearly every dot-com strapped for cash, learning who’s got the money
has become that much more important.
“The story’s over,” the quotable Mr. Calacanis told The Times of his decision to shut down Silicon Alley Reporter. “You can’t have
a magazine about unemployed people. You can’t have a magazine about people who
are taking time off.”
But when the story appeared, with the headline “Requiem for a
Cheerleader: Silicon Alley Magazine Is Dead,” the piece backfired on Mr.
Calacanis: Many people in the industry (including this reporter) assumed that
Mr. Calacanis and his trade publishing company were going out of business. They
weren’t going out of business; they were simply folding one magazine and
Soon after the story was published, Mr. Calacanis complained to
Tim Race, the Monday business editor at The
Times , and asked for a correction.
“I’m furious about this,” Mr. Calacanis told Off the Record. “I
lost advertising over this. I can’t tell you how many sales calls I’ve been on
where people say, ‘I thought you shut down,’ and then we spend the first 10
minutes explaining how The New York Times got it wrong.”
Still, it was a muddy situation, because the story about Mr.
Calacanis’ plans, written by Amy Harmon, was factually accurate.
“The Silicon Alley Reporter
… has published its last issue,” Ms. Harmon wrote. But later, she noted that
“Mr. Calacanis, 30, plans to begin publishing a magazine about venture capital
investment called Venture Reporter
beginning in December.”
If anything, the confusion might have been caused by
headlines-along with the “Requiem” headline, there was a teaser on the digest
of the Business Day section which used the headline, “The Silicon Alley
So now, as Mr. Calacanis touts his new title, he’s been sure to
take a few digs at The Times .
Recently, he sent out an e-mail announcing the first issue of Venture Reporter had come back from the
printers. “What, you thought we were out of business just because the New York Times said so?!?!?! Please,” he
That was enough for Mr. Race to write back, “Whatever it takes to
be off your list of gratuitous swipes at the Times , please do.”
Mr. Calacanis replied, “You’re not on a list Tim … was a personal
email from me.”
Mr. Race thinks The Times
did nothing wrong. “As I’ve tried to tell him any number of times, anyone who
read our Oct. 8 article and came away with the idea that he and his company had
gone out of business doesn’t read well enough for their opinions to count for
much in public discourse,” he told Off the Record.
Mr. Race said he feels The
Times didn’t err because Mr. Calacanis had in fact been planning a mock
funeral for Silicon Alley Reporter .
“He had been planning to hold a mock funeral for the publication, until the
events of Sept. 11 made Jason conclude that such an event might be in bad
taste,” he said. “For having that much good sense, I give him full credit.”
The New York Times Book Review has
decided to start placing original poetry alongside its reviews, best-seller
lists and page-long ruminations about how it’s really O.K. to hate your books. Book Review editor Charles McGrath said
the decision was a natural one, given the fact that the review had published
excerpted poems in the past. “It won’t be every week,” Mr. McGrath said. “I
don’t want to be in a position where we have to fill a slot that we can’t
The events of last
fall led lots of suddenly heartfelt, earnest magazine editors to put less
“relevant” projects aside. Esquire
editor David Granger canceled the magazine’s annual “Dubious Achievement
Awards.” GQ eliminated its “Man of
the Year” award show. And, as it turns out, Vanity
Fair ‘s Graydon Carter put a completed, special issue of the magazine into
publishing purgatory, where it remains to this day.
The doorstop in question is a
prototype of a Vanity Fair devoted
entirely to design, according to Spencer Beck, the man who put it together. Mr.
Beck, formerly the editor in chief of Los
Angele s, said he spoke to Mr. Carter about the project for a couple of
months before he moved back to New York in January 2001 to work on it. Over a
period of several months Mr. Beck toiled on the project with the art department
and a few senior editors.
Mr. Beck declined to comment on the contents of the issue, saying
only that it was “devoted to design A-Z, but with a Vanity Fair point of view.” After Sept. 11 Mr. Beck said he and Mr.
Carter spoke about the project, but that “Graydon’s attention is now on stories
A Vanity Fair
spokesperson said Mr. Carter was unavailable for comment. When asked if the
prototype would ever emerge in actual, distributed form, the spokesperson said:
“We don’t know. Right now we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it.”
There was something reassuring about the party Harper’s Bazaar threw for itself on Jan.
14. The magazine had decked out the large space of Eyebeam Atelier, a sprawling
event space on West 21st Street, in red carpeting, red couches and red light in
honor of Glenda Bailey’s first “official” issue at the helm.
In reality, Ms. Bailey, who had come from Marie Claire , had been hired last summer, and her hand could be
seen at work in the magazine’s pages since the November issue. But Bazaar Nation was in full
self-congratulatorymood, rolling out staple party props like a giant blow-up of
the new cover withGisele Bündchen, a logo-filled backdrop in the posing pen for
the paparazzi,and pieces of chocolate with Bazaar
printed on them. In a time when magazines have seen advertising revenues
plummet and party budgets have been severely cut, it all felt so very, pleasantly
Standing up front, Bazaar ‘s
creative director Stephen Gan was doing receiving-line duty while telling Off
the Record just how much time he’s been spending redesigning the fashion
“Life is busy again,” he said, ” I started work and then 10 days
after I started work, the November issue had to go to print. So we had-” he cut
off to say goodbye to a fashion executive who was leaving.
“What day’s your show?” he said, referring to the upcoming
fashion week in Paris.
“The 25th,” the woman said. “Are you going to be there?
“I will! O.K., call me.”
After a four-month hiatus, the fashion crowd was back to being
busy, touting new projects, shimmying and jiving through the after-hours.
Later, Christy Turlington said, “I don’t go to that many fashion events, so
part of it’s reunion with a lot of people I don’t get to see.”
Ms. Turlington was busy these days, too. There was the yoga book
she had to turn in to Hyperion in March, and of course her cosmetics company,
Sundari, and then her role as editor at Yoga
Journal . “I have very little free time,” she said.
Elsewhere, Moby-gosh, it seemed like a million years since we’d
gotten to write about a magazine party with an obligatory Moby appearance-was
complaining about a deadline for the music he was writing for the closing
ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month.
Ms. Bailey played the frenzied host, darting from guest to guest
to the point where it was nearly impossible to catch a word with her. Off the
Record first tried to talk with her as she was coming off the dance floor set
up in the middle of the room. We started with a question and she asked, “Do you
want a drink?” We went up to the bar and as soon as she had put our order in,
the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” came up. Ms. Bailey didn’t bother to order a
drink for herself. “I’ve got to dance to this,” she said, “I’ll be back,” and
then went back to the dance floor.
We caught up with Ms. Bailey a few songs later on the other side
of the room, standing with Susan Magrino, the publicist for the party. She at
first apologized (saying she had “passion for dance”) and then launched into,
“We love fashion, and we’re very, very fortunate. We live such a privileged
life because we’re able to go to fashion shows, we’re fortunate enough to see
the best designers in the world …. “
Before long, Ms. Magrino was introducing Ms. Bailey to Frank
DeCaro, a movie critic for The Daily Show
with Jon Stewart and writer for TV
“Congratulations,” Mr. DeCaro said.
“Thank-you,” Ms. Bailey said.
“And thank-you for your note,”
Mr. DeCaro said. And Ms. Bailey was off again, heading back through the dance
That left us with Mr. DeCaro, who noted he had just finished a
new book proposal: Love Handles to Die
For: A Heartwarming Tale of Sexual Depravity . “It’s sort of about how a boy
named Phyllis became a man named Frank,” he said.
Dancing, Ms. Bailey was all elbows and hands, while shaking her
waist around. Bill Buford, literary editor of The New Yorker , who himself was staining the underarms of his blue
shirt while boogie-ing with Bazaar
senior features editor Jessica Green, called Ms. Bailey’s moves “arrhythmic and
The Jan. 21 issue of Forbes
features as its cover boy Tom Siebel, the head of software giant Siebel
Systems. Along with Mr. Siebel’s handsome mug comes this cover line: “Betting
on the Comeback: Tom Siebel’s software saw the downturn coming. Now he says
tech is ready to roll.”
Fair enough. But open the issue and this is what you’ll see: A
full-page ad for Siebel Systems, placed adjacent to another portrait of Mr.
Siebel on the contents page, as if it were a two-page advertising spread.
A spokesperson for Forbes said this wasn’t a case of the
magazine’s editorial and business sides getting all warm and cozy.
“The contents page was the last to close and this was a
production error,” the spokesperson said, “which is always captured. But this
one is a big, red-faced ‘Oops!’ “