Not since Gawker acquired and then did basically nothing with CityFile The Awl came along last April has an editorial unveiling been so anticipated! Capital New York — the brainchild of former New York Observer editors Tom McGeveran and Josh Benson — is basically going to be the New Order to the Observer‘s Joy Division. And it said hello to the media universe today very quietly — and very awesomely — via Twitter. IT’S ALIVE!
Their current follower list is kind of hysterical: media dorks, Observer staffers, and Yoko Ono. Yes, Yoko Ono.
Also, note that tag line: THIS IS HOW NEW YORK WORKS. It’s punchy, bold, and knowingly presumptuous, and the kind of old-school moxie only certain stripes of people can’t (or can) enjoy. It certainly says something about their editorial tone. Also, sounds kinda familiar. Remember, Gawker’s old tagline? REPORTING LIVE FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. The Awl’s is still BE LESS STUPID.
Right now, Capital New York has four editorial staffers people are aware of: McGeveran, Benson, Gillian Reagan (who came from Business Insider, and before that, the Observer), and Katherine Jose, who went to Capital New York after she left her job as the senior politics editor at…the New York Observer. Their plan, as it’s been heard, is to launch three verticals: culture, media, and politics. Culture will be the first one up. Chris Rovzar at Daily Intel already reported:
It will be focused on New York, and fashioned around its contributors. Sort of like a beefed-up version of the Atlantic’s “Voices” section, each writer will have his or her own space on the website to play with. We hear they’ve also been talking to illustrators to keep art as a regular news and commentary feature.
And the word is that no contributor will go unpaid, which is an expensive (but admirable) business plan. Even more, we’ve also heard that brass at the Observer are locking down on anybody who works for them freelancing for Captial, which would make sense, given…any number of factors. Maybe it has something to do with them already losing staffers to Capital, or maybe it has to do with the supposed circumstances under which Tom McGeveran parted with the Observer‘s reportedly cocksure and dissent-intolerant young publisher, Jared Kushner. Or maybe it just has to do with Capital — being New York-centric — presenting some competition to the Observer. Which it may even be nothing like! We haven’t even seen it yet!
Regardless of comparisons to their former gigs, we’ve been told the list of names they’ve brought on to write for them is “awesome.” Yet, Capital New York’s gonna have to pass a pretty hard test they obviously know they’re getting into: Can you pay Grade-A contributors to produce original content without being a whorey news aggregation machine (see: Huffington Post, et al) as an online news startup, in what looks to be a pretty crowded space…and make it?
Here’s hoping. This’ll be fun. Now let’s see the thing already.