A high school student reporter asked journalist Seth Lipsky how he would deal with a high school administration that is unsupportive of the school paper.
“What did I do in that situation?” Lipsky said, reflecting for a second before responding, “I started my own paper.”
Besides his high school newspaper, Lipsky founded the Asian Wall Street Journal and helped lead The New York Sun and the Jewish newspaper Forward to prominence. He talked about his experiences creating distinct voices for newspapers at a Branford College Master’s Tea Wednesday.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Great Barrington, Mass., Lipsky said he began his journalistic career in ninth grade, when he started his first newspaper — which he said was “thrown out” by the school. While at Harvard, he contributed to Time magazine.
After a brief stint at a local newspaper following graduation, Lipsky was drafted in 1969 to fight in the Vietnam War. He worked as a combat reporter for the Pacific Stars and Stripes. He then took his conservative politics and independent views to the Wall Street Journal, where he now works as a contributing editor.
Lipsky credited Peter Kann, a former correspondent for and current Chairman and CEO of Dow Jones & Company and the Journal’s Publisher, as his inspiration for creating the Asian Wall Street Journal.
“Peter Kann believed that it was possible to have a paper based not on geography, but on a community of interests,” Lipsky said.
After his time at the Asian Wall Street Journal, Lipsky began working for Forward. He eventually helped it become a national paper, but he said he soon realized that Forward’s association with the Jewish community limited its circulation. Lipsky and the board of the paper also agreed that his conservative political views did not fit with the organization, he said, so he sold his shares back to Forward and started a new paper, The New York Sun.
Although many papers have been started and become defunct in New York, The New York Sun took root and now boasts a daily paid circulation of about 30,000. Lipsky credited the Sun’s success to its undisguised conservatism and its focus on local issues.
“The logic of the Sun depends partly on the recognition that The New York Times has made a strategic shift in its decision to become a national newspaper,” Lipsky said. “We ought to come in and make it a slogan to have New York on the front page [of every issue].”
Lipsky said he does not think the Sun should worry about objectivity or try to hide its political views.
“I don’t believe in journalists having ‘responsibility,'” Lipsky said.
He added that he does not think The New York Times and The Washington Post are objective.
“If it’s objective, then you would fall asleep reading it — if you could still read it after throwing up on it,” Lipsky said.
But Lipsky said he thinks The New York Times is a “great paper.”
Alice Phillips ’05, who interned at the Sun this past summer and tutored Lipsky’s children, said she thought Lipsky’s accomplishments were “incredible.”
“He started three newspapers, not including the high school one,” Phillips said.
Eliana Johnson ’06 said she was surprised by Lipsky’s confidence in his newspapers.
“I was taken aback by how easy he made it sound,” Johnson said.
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