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April 29, 2009, 9 a.m.

Is that the defunct New York Sun peeking over the digital horizon?

The New York Sun, which shuttered in September, appears to be making some sort of comeback online.

Amanda Gordon, the erstwhile newspaper’s society columnist, has been blogging on since April 10, when she wrote, “I will be resuming Out & About for The New York Sun.” And yesterday the site posted an unsigned editorial as well as a news article by former editor Ira Stoll.

In an email late yesterday afternoon, Sun publisher Seth Lipsky wrote, “Thanks for the inquiry, but I wouldn’t make too much of that activity.” Stoll told me he’s “only tangentially involved with the new New York Sun.” (The stirring at the Sun was first noticed by Kate Klonick in a post at True/Slant.)

More than half a year after the newspaper closed down, its site still attracts more than 100,000 unique visitors per month, according to Compete. That isn’t spectacular traffic, but it’s pretty good for a dead site. And consider that Quantcast estimates the Sun drew 700,000 or so monthly uniques when it employed 110 full-time staffers.

Presumably, almost all of the Sun’s current traffic comes from search-engine referrals to its six-year archive. Evidence that’s probably a valid assumption: The most-viewed story on the Sun’s website right now is “Semi-Nude 15-Year-Olds,” a year-old opinion piece that is, well, not child pornography.

Lipsky told Politico’s Michael Calderone that “a business plan for the site is still in formation.” I think that with aggressive search engine optimization and creative ad sales, the Sun’s morgue could show some signs of a business model. Throw in new content produced by a handful of reporters plus extensive aggregation of other New York media, and the Sun — which reportedly lost $1 million a month as a newspaper — could reemerge as a scrappy yet viable news website. But that’s pure speculation.

Here’s what I do know: The Sun’s previous holding company, One SL LLC — the SL stands for Seth Lipsky — is no longer active. On December 15, someone incorporated Two SL LLC, and that name appeared in the copyright section of the Sun’s website on or before January 4.

Gordon’s Out & About blog first appeared on the Sun’s homepage at the beginning of last week. (UPDATE, 11:23 a.m.: I spoke to Gordon this morning, after this post was published. She explained that her current financial relationship with the Sun is a revenue share with Lipsky from sales of her event photographs.)

A revival of the Sun, in whatever form, would be exciting news for those of us who enjoyed the newspaper’s smart writing and intensely local news coverage. (Before I was a Bostonian, I was a New Yorker.) The Sun launched the careers of several great young writers, most notably Josh Gerstein, who now writes for Politico. (It also employed a litany of my friends.)

Who knows what Lipsky is planning, and his one-sentence email to me yesterday certainly didn’t provide any clues. But I’ll be looking with anticipation toward the eastern horizon.

POSTED     April 29, 2009, 9 a.m.
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