Beloved New York Observer editors Tom McGeveran and Josh Benson left the paper late last year to go work on a secret, hush-hush project. This was after Jared Kushner — the son of a disgraced Jersey real-estate scion and now Ivanka Trump’s husband — purchased the legendary pink paper (whose legacy he compared to reading “homework”), proceeded to layoff popular Observer writers, and then oversaw the resignation of legendary Observer editor Peter Kaplan. The question of what the former Observer talents were getting into remained to be seen. Until it teased New York by poking its head out last week.
Well, Capital New York is finally here. Kinda. Updated!
The site launched today by sending out passwords to a lucky few! We were among them. Hm! This is a curious strategy because HOW COULD I NOT BLOG THIS IS WHY, and by “curious strategy” we mean one we like because HERE IT IS FIRST.**
Here’s what it looks like, and below that, the list of Capital’s current writers. Analysis forthcoming!
Isn’t that a wonderful cartoon regarding NYT TruffleKerfluffle writer Lynn Hirschberger? I think so.
The writers for Capital, from their masthead page:
*Has previously written for the New York Observer.
Two of the business people over there look to be CJ Kettler formerly of Oxygen (where she was a sales VP) and Solera Capital, a private equity firm) and Gabriel Presler, who once worked for Chicago-based investment firm Morningstar. The list their “advisers” as (vet journalist-turned-media-strategist) Merrill Brown and (Politico columnist and “futurist”) Andrew Rasiej.
Okay! On their About page, they describe themselves thusly:
Capital is an online publication about how things work in New York.
We’ll be covering important people and institutions in politics, media, culture and business, with the aim of sustaining a conversation with a knowing audience about things they don’t already know.
The premise of Capital is that it is possible for a news website to do well by being good. Our ability to succeed will depend on attracting and conversing with an extraordinary community of users, and on whether that community likes what we’re doing.
For starters, here, we’re introducing a sort of beta version of the site, starting with a culture focus, which we hope you like and will help us to develop.
And on an intro post, Josh Benson candidly notes:
A few months ago, Tom McGeveran and I left our jobs to see if we couldn’t get a new publication off the ground. We figured the publication ought to be strictly local, even if the locality happens to be the capital of the universe; we figured we could convince really talented people to work on it with us; and we figured it would succeed as a business. (Check; check; check back with us in a bit.)
Since then, we’ve been the beneficiaries of an embarrassing amount of help from advisers, developers, designers, authors, artists, and other collaborators, to say nothing of the writers who left perfectly good gigs elsewhere to join us in our workspace in a corner of Andrew Rasiej’s otherwise respectable Soho office. Their confidence in this endeavor, even back before our smart business-person associates transformed Capital from a neat idea into a Venture, has been awesome and inspiring and career-affirming.
We learned things over the past few months, like what Series A investment is and what venture capitalists look like up close. We came up with and rejected lots of taglines! (The Language of Power; The Means of Production; Buzz Is for Suckers.) We confronted the perils of momentary idleness.
The lead-up period–which, no matter what some of our colleagues say, can’t have seemed longer to anyone else than it has to us–is now over. Starting today, we’ve got something that’s real (or “beta” real, anyway), which is lots more fun to show to people than mock-ups and marketing materials.
But that’s as far as the self-satisfaction goes. None of this stuff matters unless you like what we’re doing here and decide you want to see more of the same. The idea of today’s launch-by-invitation for this modest, pilot version of Capital is to start with a group of site-users we really like and respect, and go from there. So: Welcome. Please browse, handle the merchandise, and maybe even register if you feel like it.
And then let your friends know what you think. (I’m at jbenson[at]capitalnewyork.com.) We’d be very much obliged.