What a run. A newspaper founded by a company that was scheduled to be created on September 11, 2001, announces its last issue on September 29, 2008, the day of the largest one-day point drop in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It's easy to forget the boom years in between that were bracketed by the terrorist attacks and the financial crisis.
Beginning a new daily newspaper in New York was an optimistic project. And in many ways the optimism that animated this venture has been borne out. The Bush tax cuts did unleash tremendous economic growth. Iraqis are building a better country in freedom. The expansion of charter schools in New York has improved educational outcomes. The Republican Party can nominate a presidential candidate who stands for welcoming immigrants to America. The Bush administration's counterterrorism policies and those of the New York Police Department have prevented another attack from succeeding, a track record that the next president and the next mayor will be lucky to emulate notwithstanding complaints by the civil libertarians.
So while this is a sad day for the Sun's editors and employees and readers and backers, and a worrisome day and month for those many, many New Yorkers whose fortunes are tied to the financial markets, we end this project marveling at what a land of opportunity America is and what an open and dynamic city New York is. A few little-known editors and reporters managed to win backing for a project and nurse it to the point where — and we are very touched by this — even our competitors are saying it made a difference in the national and local debate and won the respect of the city's leading citizens.
We wouldn't want to overstate our accomplishments. We failed to make a profit, which was one of our goals. But neither would we want to understate our accomplishments. It is not nothing that when the Washington Post and the New York Times wanted to report on Arab oil money and monarchs funding the Clinton library, they quoted reporting by our Josh Gerstein. Or when the Wall Street Journal editorial page wanted to understand the roots of the financial crisis, it cited reporting by our Julie Satow.
Or that when President Bush nominated Michael Mukasey as attorney general after we suggested it in a New York Sun editorial, the White House quoted the front-page profile of the judge that had been written in the Sun by our Joseph Goldstein on the moment of his retirement. Or that when the news broke that the Sun's future was in doubt, the directors of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art spoke of the newspaper's importance, as did three of the former governors of New York, two Democrats and one Republican. Or that Ambassador Bolton said that our Benny Avni had provided the best U.N. coverage of any newspaper, anywhere.
One of the things we were often asked about The New York Sun, these past seven years, was what made us choose the name. To remind ourselves of the answer we kept in our editorial rooms, hanging on a wall opposite a portrait of Frederick Douglass, the last number the Sun issued, on January 4, 1950, before the paper was passed on to Roy Howard for merger into the World Telegram. It carried on the front page a statement by its last publisher, Thomas W. Dewart, who wrote of the Sun: "Throughout its career it has supported Constitutional government, sound money, reasonable protection for American industry, economy in public expenditures, perseveration of the rights and responsibilities of the several states, free enterprise, good citizenship, equality before the law, and has upheld all the finer American traditions.
"It has opposed indecency and rascality, public and private. It has fought Populism, Socialism, Communism, government extravagance, the encroachments of bureaucracy and that form of governmental paternalism which eats into the marrow of private initiative and industry. With respect to all these things, we may proudly and truthfully say that we have fought a good fight ..."
That is the part of the front page that visitors to the Sun often look at and that was quoted by the New Yorker in a piece that appeared in the magazine as we were starting, which noted that aside from the protectionism it wasn't a bad encapsulation of what we are about. But what we like most about that last front page of the old Sun is not the statement of editorial ideals, admirable though they are, but the news stories that accompany it.
"Dewey Pledges No Tax Rise, Hits Truman Health Plan," was one. "Dewey Asks City Rent Law" is another. "Mercury at 59.8 Sets New Mark," was another. Taxes, national health care, New York City rent control, global warming — these were the issues in 1950 and they are the issues of today.
Situations change of course, and added to the mix has been the great debate over foreign policy and the war. We are struck with each crisis — including the one that has beset our markets, when the temptation is running strong for so many to take the statist bait, though not once did we consider asking Washington to bail out the Sun — of the importance of guiding principles.
We can only hope that some day in the future our own record will inspire some new generation of newspapermen and women with dreams to pick up the flag that today we put down. We hope it doesn't take 50 years for the next new start, but even if it does take that long, we hope that they have as much fun as we have had and meet with as much success.