Changes at New York Press

Sifton Jumps Ship for Job at Miramax Magazine; Press to go Broadsheet.

The July 29 New York Press led with a story by Managing Editor Sam Sifton. In the article titled, “I’m Back,” Sifton described his personal hell-on-earth since suffering a herniated disc a month ago.

The story should have been called: “I’m Back, But Not For Long.”

Sifton told AAN News in an interview last week that he’s accepted a job offer from ex-New Yorker chief Tina Brown. Starting in September, the 32-year-old Sifton will work as senior editor/writer for Miramax’s yet-untitled national magazine, which won’t start publishing until fall ’99.

His last day at the Press was July 28.

Sifton’s departure is just one of the changes taking place at the Press. Publisher Ron Mann recently left the paper to launch his own sales and motivational speaking company. Founder Russ Smith has assumed the tandem positions of editor-in-chief and publisher. John Strausbaugh has taken over as editor. Copy Editor Lisa Kearns has moved up in the food chain, filling Sifton’s slot as managing editor. And coming August 19, the Press will beef up its size and switch from a tabloid to a broadsheet paper.

“We’re moving to a broadsheet to make the publication more unique,” says Smith. “It was a marketplace consideration. It gives us more latitude on the editorial and commercial sides. The broadsheet gives us a front page where we can have five stories.”

Despite the change, the Press has not entirely forsaken its tabloid roots. Smith says the paper will contain a tabloid insert consisting of music articles, movie listings and adult classifieds. The Press will also continue to run ads on the front page.

Smith calls the switch to broadsheet for his 110,000-circulation paper “radical” and is quick to add: “What it really does is distinguish us from the [Village] Voice.”

Speaking of the Voice — the July 30 New York Post contained an article about the feud between the Press and the Voice, and changes occurring at both. [The Voice recently shrank its size in order to print more color pages.] In the piece, Voice Publisher David Schneiderman opined that the Press’ move to broadsheet was an outgrowth of its futile battle against the Voice.

“I think the move says that they are throwing in the towel against us and going after the [New York] Observer,” Schneiderman is quoted. “You don’t do something this dramatic unless you’re in trouble.”

Smith, however, rejects the claims.

“The paper will be a hybrid between the Press and the Observer,” he says. “It will look unlike any other paper — it’ll look more European. We did this so we can have a more unique paper. Our paper speaks for itself and you can’t say that about the Voice.”