A merger of two Hampton newspapers — Ron Perelman’s The Independent with Dan’s Papers — means that Thursday marks the first time in 24 years there is no print edition of the weekly Independent.
Dan’s Papers is the print survivor.
But the Independent’s website and many of its top journalists and executives will live on in the newly combined company, now called Dan’s Independent Media.
The Independent’s longtime publisher, Jim Mackin — among the partners of Jerry Della Femina and daughter Jodi Della Femina, who launched it 24 years ago — has joined the new company as chief operating officer.
Eric Feil, who was president of editorial operations at Dan’s, is president of the merged entity, while Jessica Mackin, an executive editor at The Independent and Jim’s wife, survives as an editor-at-large, reporting to Feil.
Among the top-level casualties: Rick Murphy, a co-executive editor at The Independent who will not be joining the new company. Taylor Vecsey, an Indie reporter and daughter of legendary New York Post sports columnist Peter Vecsey, stays with the new operation as managing editor of digital operations. Award-winning journalist Tom McMorrow also is staying with the new outfit.
“The reason why this works is because Dan’s Papers wanted to become a serious news organization,” said Josh Vlasto, former chief-of-staff for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now Perelman’s representative on the new board, where Perelman acts as vice chairman.
Dan Rattiner, the founder of the paper that bears his name, will stay on the masthead and continue to write his folksy columns that made the original offbeat publication such a hit on the East End for the past 50 years.
“He’s the founder of Dan’s, its patron saint and we stand on his shoulders,” said Richard Burns, the owner of Dan’s, who wanted to merge his events- and feature-focused publication with the newsier Independent even before the coronavirus struck. Both of the former rivals will keep separate websites alive.