The New York Observer is getting a new leader—again. On Friday (Feb. 4), the paper announced that Elizabeth Spiers is taking over, becoming the Observer’s fourth editor in chief since Jared Kushner bought the small, but influential, weekly four years ago.
Spiers helped found blog publishers Dead Horse Media and Gawker, and served for a year as editor in chief at Mediabistro. She replaces Kyle Pope, who has been in the job only 14 months. Prior to that, he was an editor at Condé Nast Portfolio, the heavily funded business glossy that Condé Nast folded in 2009 after two years.
Pope followed interim editor Tom McGeveran, who left the paper after a little more than six months in the top spot. McGeveran had replaced longtime editor Peter Kaplan, who left in 2009. Kaplan was rumored to have battled over finances with Kushner, a real estate scion who paid $10 million for the money-losing salmon-colored paper in 2006 at the age of 25.
Pope also was said to have clashed with Kushner and publisher Christopher Barnes over budget cuts and staff productivity, former employees said. Several staffers left in the past year, forcing those who remained to do more and more despite earning meager salaries of $25,000 to $35,000 a year, an ex-employee said.
“Kyle would often say he didn’t want to put out a paper he wasn’t proud of, and he didn’t feel he had the resources to put out a paper he was proud of,” this person said.
The Observer said Pope is staying on in an advisory role until March. It quoted Kushner as saying, “The paper made great strides under Kyle’s leadership. I know he will go on to do great things.”