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The Sun Sets

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On Tuesday, September 30, New York Sun Editor Seth Lipsky told his staff that the paper was ceasing publication. Here in part is what he said:

They [the investors] invested in the ideal of the scoop, the notion that news is the spirit of democracy, and in the principles for which we have stood in our editorial pages -- limited and honest government, equality under our Constitution and the law, free markets, sound money, and a strong foreign policy in support of freedom and democracy. They liked the way the Sun reflected the dynamism of our city and spoke for its interests in the national debate.

They invested, too, in the joy with which you illuminated the cultural life of New York, in our willingness to spring to the defense of so many who are not always defended, in the thrill of our sports coverage, the verve and warmth of our society coverage, and in our efforts to bring together a community and give it voice.

I did not agree with much of what the Sun wrote in its editorial pages, but I did agree with the energetic, rational, journalistic manner in which its reporters pursued a good old fashioned journalistic scoop. Seth Lipsky's last editorial, in fact, was titled "The Ideal of the Scoop."

Compare what Lipsky said above that the Sun stood for (and had to close down) to what the flourishing cable news networks stand for: Solid reporting versus bloviating opinionators. Clearly labeled editorial opinions versus disguised, often racist and sexist, smears. Commitment to a community versus commitment to profit via lowest-common-denominator programming. Wisdom versus stupidity. Honor versus dishonor.

Newspapers are dying, and it's heartbreakingly sad. Think about how you would feel if you were alive (like Sarah Palin thinks humans were) and you had to watch the magnificent dinosaurs die from lack of sunshine and enough to eat to keep them alive. You would have cried then and you should be crying now as newspapers die. But that's evolution.

What's really sad is that the Sun would be alive if it could have found a few more investors who were willing to see it lose a couple of million dollars a year, while Rupert Murdoch keeps the trashy New York Post alive with infusions of over $40 million a year to cover its losses.

Murdoch could have afforded to keep the Sun alive if had wanted to, and I'm curious to know why he chose not to. Anti-Semitic? Wanted to be the only conservative voice in NY? Who knows, except we do know that it's too bad someone didn't step up. Yes, whoever invested would have been a little poorer, but New York is now a lot poorer intellectually.