This week, New York magazine takes an in-depth look at New York Observer owner Jared Kushner and his relationship with his ex-con father, Charlie Kushner. Although the profile sticks mainly to the father and son’s stories, it comes at an interesting time for the salmon-colored broadsheet, which recently lost long-time editor Peter Kaplan and laid off a bulk of its edit staff.
“I think we’re definitely at a bottom for newspapers,” Kushner told New York‘s Gabriel Sherman a couple of weeks after the layoffs on June 5. “Once this Russian winter is over, once the papers fail that should fail, you’ll see a resurgence. I think the Observer two years from now will be a very viable entity.”
What the article does reveal about the Observer is Kushner’s relationship with Kaplan and the editor’s possible reasons for his seemingly sudden departure.
“In truth, Jared and Kaplan’s relationship swerved between grudging respect and conflict,” the article says. “Though they grew up in the same part of New Jersey and both went to Harvard, in other ways they were the oddest of couples. Jared found a lot of the paper incomprehensible and fuddy-duddyish, while Kaplan couldn’t quite get over the fact that Jared was the same age as many of his reporters. Kaplan at first tried to mentor Jared like one of his writers. But that only worked for a while.”
Then Kushner hired Bob Sommer, a former publicist, to work as president of the Observer and pushed a redesign, which included the addition of a real estate section, reflecting the young tycoon’s interest in the industry.
“He also insisted on shorter stories and drove Kaplan to shovel stuff onto the Web, which Kaplan thought was the wrong strategy,” the New York article reports. “‘We had benchmarks,’ Sommer says. ‘And Peter hated it.’”