Wednesday, April 17

Sun, Sun, and more Sun

After heralding the arrival of the New York Sun yesterday, I would like to follow up with a slightly more detailed analysis of the paper thus far.

First, the layout. I like both the size and appearance of the paper. It is clearly a niche paper and does not try to be all things to all people. If you want 20 pages of sports, read the Post, if you want ten pages of in depth coverage of headline stories on the Middle East, read the Times, if you want detailed business coverage, read the WSJ. The Sun is for people who get the bulk of their news (including all their national news) from another source, be it the Times, the internet, or television, and who want a cheap supplement with a fresh perspective and a New York focus. It is also the ideal commuter or lunch-break paper because it is short enough to be read in its entirety in less than an hour. The six and seven column format folds well for on the go reading and the headline, subhead, and body text scans quickly. Overall, the look is a combination of the new WSJ format and Canada's National Post, while the front page banner, lifted from the old New York Sun, gives the paper the visual elan to set it apart.

Second, so far the balance of topics has been quirky but pleasing. There is, as promised, a New York focus with only peripheral coverage of national and international news (again, as promised) which suits the paper's position as a secondary source of news (see paragraph above). What is unexpected is the prominence of carefully selected "News of the Weird"-type stories. Yesterday's front page carried a small story about the world's largest ant colony and today's front page broadcasts the tabloid headline "Monkeys Going on Birth Control." While such headlines and stories might strike some readers as jarring in a newspaper that bills itself as providing the highest possible standards of journalistic quality and integrity, my impression is that they strike just the right note of levity to ease an early-rising reader into the paper's more substantial stories, of which there are many. And, to the editor's credit, these seemingly frivolous stories have so far been very interesting, so please keep them coming.

Thirdly, the inclusion of DailyCandy as a regular feature is a stroke of genius. The ladies at DailyCandy have been unearthing quintessentially New York restaurants, hang-outs, shops, trends, and sales for a couple of years now and they do it better than any paper could do itself. I suspect that the inclusion of this feature was the idea of the former editor of smartertimes.com, which pointed out on at least one occasion that I recall, that DailyCandy had beaten the Times to reporting on a trend by several months. Kudos to the Sun for recognizing the usefulness of tapping into the fashionable-woman-on-the-street vibe at which DailyCandy excels.

Finally, I have one minor criticism. Two people with whom I have discussed the paper have complained that the use of large photos that are not related to any written story in the paper is confusing. For example, today's front page features a photo of Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz being weighed in to promote his "Lighten Up Brooklyn" campaign to encourage Brooklynites to lose weight. None of the stories surrounding the large, color photo is related to it in any way and one story on a French inventor who has invented a chute for skyscrapers, which appears immediately to the photo's left, inadvertently makes it look as though the photo of Mr. Markowitz is actually that of someone about to try out the French chute. To solve this confusion, the paper needs to either tie all photos to actual stories or provide longer captions that do a better job of conveying the importance of the attached photo.

All in all, a wholly satisfying debut. I look forward to reading more in the days ahead.