In all the reports of layoffs and foldings and budget setbacks and year-end projections that have dominated New York media news the last few weeks the New York Observer has been noticeably absent. Owner Jared Kushner purchased the paper back in July 2006 for a reported $10 million and shortly thereafter converted it into a tabloid while simultaneously upping its online content and real estate coverage (“porn for rich people”). Britain’s Guardian caught up with Kushner who says that he is as worried as anyone else about the current environment.
[The Observer] has annual losses of $2m and circulation is barely above 50,000. “With regards to leverage our company is now conservatively leveraged with no real maturities coming in the next few years…His paper, Kushner insists, punches above its weight: “We speak to the wealthiest and most influential people in the city. Politicians often say to me, ‘articles in the Observer don’t get me votes, but you get me money.’
That said, despite revenue being up 40% this year, Kushner predicts it will be another two years before the NYO turns a profit. However(!), perhaps what’s most noticeable in Kushner’s tone is he lack of “the sky is falling mentality.”
I don’t think we’ll be all online anytime soon but we took it to a tabloid and maybe we’ll take it to a glossy.
Which is not to say that he is oblivious to the risks.
“I’m definitely scared about newspapers…The problem is nobody wants to catch a falling knife and nobody knows where things will stabilise. The value of newspapers has dropped significantly.” Is the worst over? “I think we still have more pain to be felt.”