Inside The Fine Print’s Inaugural Subscribers, Sources, and Friends Mixer
Did a media party really happen if there’s no party report?
The day started off dismally — gray, rainy, unseasonably cold — but by the evening the weather had cleared and a slew of media types gathered at Greenwood Park, a converted gas station and mechanic shop in South Slope that now serves draft beer. The Fine Print’s first event for subscribers, sources, and friends drew a bit of each. “Just do a roll call,” suggested Jack Crosbie, a correspondent whose work in Ukraine and life back in Brooklyn has been covered here before. “There are a lot of boldface names in lefty New York City media, and they all came and showed face.”
Among the aisles formed by a grid of picnic tables, gossip could be heard about WNYC’s Jami Floyd and the backlash to the recent Harper’s job listing. In the crowd were Michael Learmonth, editor-in-chief of Vice News, Dodai Stewart, deputy editor for narrative projects at The New York Times, Vinay Singh, vice chair of Archer Gray, Justin Miller, news director of New York’s Intelligencer, Erin Overbey, archive editor at The New Yorker, Kenneth Li, Reuters global industry editor for tech, Edmund Lee, assistant editor at The Times, Megan Carpentier, most recently editor of NBC News’s Think, Foster Kamer, chief content officer of Futurism, Siddhartha Mahanta, most recently of The Times opinion section, Tekendra Parmar, Insider tech editor, Mark Yarm, features editor of Input, Ben Goggin, deputy technology editor at NBC News, and Maxwell Tani, White House reporter at Politico.
When asked what brought her to the party, Overbey said that The Fine Print was, “a media enterprise that I haven’t seen in years. It’s setting a new tone for coverage of the industry, coverage of other reporters, coverage of other institutions. That’s one of the reasons I’m here—because I’m fascinated by the coverage they do.” Kelly Burdick, executive editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, was somewhat more terse: “It’s good,” he said of this newsletter. “I like it.” As Stewart put it, “When was the last time I was invited to a party where there might be gossip?”
Burdick, who attended with Lapham’s Quarterly senior editor, Sarah Fan, echoed a sentiment expressed by a number of partygoers that the newsletter’s gossipy, energetic media coverage was redolent of a New York City media scene of the late-nineties/early-aughts, a period not coincidentally when many of the attendees began their media careers, including The Fine Print’s publisher and editor-in-chief, Gabriel Snyder, who counted a fair number of partygoers as former colleagues. As Josh Wolk, who hired Snyder to help on a Spy revival pop-up at Esquire in 2016 and now runs the consultancy Fixate Digital, put it, “It was the trifecta: Gabriel’s fantastic, I love the newsletter, and it was close.”
While the South Slope location was a selling point for Wolk and others who live within walking distance, it drew complaints. “I was surprised by this choice of bar,” said one attendee, “because it’s very suburban.” Indeed, the family- and pet-friendly vibe of the venue (The New York Times’ Michelle Dozois and Rex Sorgatz, The Fine Print’s technical guru, even brought their dog, Smudge), paired with the voice of the Bingo Night emcee wafting from inside the bar out onto the patio and the giant wall constructed from old, decaying wooden pallets, doesn’t exactly scream elite media party.
By the end of the evening, though, the atmosphere began to feel well-suited to the event. The crowd, impressive job titles and bylines notwithstanding, was—like the bar itself—welcoming and unpretentious. Conversation tended to veer away from The Fine Print, instead eddying around workplace gossip, general excitement about the return of media parties, and memories of the slapstick hellishness of early-career journalism. Noah Hurowitz shared an experience reporting on a red carpet, where Ben Kingsley reprimanded him for asking stupid questions. “I’m dead now,” he recalls thinking. “I don’t have to fear death. It can’t get worse.” Streetsblog NYC’s Dave Colon’s quick response: “Didn’t someone at a funeral spray a hose at you?”
In part owing to the previous late night out at the National Magazine Awards and in part to the long treks home for the Manhattanites and those living in Northern Brooklyn, the crowd started to thin out around 10:30 pm. Inside, Bingo Night ended. By 11 pm, only a dozen or so stragglers remained. Among them were The Fine Print reporters Sara Krolewski, Andrew Fedorov, Sophie Krichevsky, The Nation’s Alana Pockros, and Callie Hitchcock of Campside Media.
The Fine Print’s next gathering is planned for May, probably in Manhattan this time.
Photos by Luis Garcia.