The days are numbered for New York City’s other alternative weekly. We hear that the New York Press will likely cease publication by the summer’s end if Manhattan Media can’t sell the title or at least the website.
“Everything is always potentially for sale for the right price,” Manhattan Media publisher and CEO Tom Allon told us today. “If anyone has any interest in the paper or the New York Press website, we’re all ears.”
Press editor-in-chief Jerry Portwood recently left for a job at Out magazine, following culture and entertainment editor Adam Rathe, who also departed this month. Meanwhile, the paper’s contrarian film critic Armond White has been named editor of CityArts, a Manhattan Media culture publication. The rearrangement is perhaps a symptom of an uncertain future for the paper, which today named Marissa Maier as editor-in-chief. (Maier works currently as a writer for the Hamptons community paper The Sag Harbor Express.) But her run at the Press, a longtime Village Voice competitor, could be extremely short.
“We have a new editor starting August 4,” Allon said. “We plan to put out her first issue that week, and her second issue the week after that, and her third issue the next week. And what happens beyond that will play itself out.”
At this point, he said, “there are no plans to do anything different than we’ve always done.” But he added, “Media is like politics — a month is a long time.”
According to sources familiar with the paper’s operations, one possibility moving forward, which Allon refused to comment on, would be the relaunch of a publication called Our Town Downtown — the same title of the local newspaper Manhattan Media closed when they bought the Press in 2007.
Manhattan Media currently publishes community papers like West Side Spirit and Our Town East Side, which serve “some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country.” The publisher took a stab at the downtown market in an identical format back in 2006 under founding editor Bill Gunlocke, but purchased the Press soon after and folded Downtown into the decades-old Press, sending Gunlocke on his way.
Asked about a relaunch of the title he started, Gunlocke told us, “I think it’s a pretty good idea. The Press isn’t what it used to be and I don’t think [Manhattan Media’s] sensibilities were ever 100% in sync with it.
“You see that Frank Gehry building downtown and the 92nd St. Y and I can see why they’d want to report on — and get ads from — those more neighborhood-y places.”
Amid the high-level staff departures at the Press, Allon has decided to run for mayor of New York City, but assured his staff in a memo that his commitment to newspapers would not wane. “This potential candidacy does not mean that I will be any less focused on Manhattan Media,” he told his company.
But indications are that the Press will not be a part of that vision for much longer.
“When Manhattan Media acquired New York Press four years ago from Window Media, we were suffering and there was discussion of closing the publication,” said Portwood, the paper’s out-going editor. “Manhattan Media gave us four more years: We weathered the Great Recession and the implosion of print media as we understood it.
“If the New York Press will no longer exist in the form it has over the past 23 years it may just be natural attrition,” he said. “But I wish all those who are working on it the best.”