For the second time in a year, the editor-in-chief of New York Press has resigned after a clash with management. Harry Siegel took over the paper last October, having earned the affections of the paper’s former owner (and behind-the-scenes influencer) Russ Smith.
Last night, Seigel told the New York Observer:
New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization.
Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editor Jonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.
Since Smith sold the paper a few years ago, its new owners have run scared of the irreverence that is a second language to most alt-weeklies. Former editor-in-chief Jeff Koyen resigned from New York Press last February after clashing with the owners over a particularly stupid, unfunny article about Pope John Paul II. (Disclosure: I was the research editor at New York Press at that time.)
While Siegel and his crew are to be admired for outing their cowardly owners, the notion that they have something in common with Jeff Koyen a man Siegel mocked in print as recently as last month — must drive them bonkers.
But the worst part is a newspaper going through three EICs in one year. (Koyen’s deputy, Alex Zaitchik, took over until his team was replaced by Siegel’s.) A number that high is an ownership problem, not an editorial problem.