And also, in the new New York Observer book, there is Jared Kushner talking about owning the paper. Last night there was a party for this book, by the way! Former editor Peter Kaplan made a very funny speech that began with a joke about “Jewish editor hires Pope,” which is funny because earlier that day, Kyle Pope, an unemployed former Portfolio editor, had just been hired, after months of talks, to become the paper’s sixth editor. Jared Kushner also made a speech, and said nice things about his paper’s former editors, though he said that every time he says something nice about an editor that it gets all twisted in the press, because everyone out there just makes things up! For instance, he slagged off Gawker and New York magazine, by name, but said that the Observer, at least, still practices real journalism. Which brings us back to his perspective on newspaper publishing.
Kushner says, in an interview in the book-an interview in which he is often charming and self-effacing-of the paper’s tabloid redesign that is now a few years old:
The paper had become stuck, in the sense that the articles were way too long, it wasn’t visually stimulating, and I thought that people today are more responsive to shorter, easier pieces like they get on the Internet. When you want to do something long, deliberately do that, but for the most part, stay within the mold and give the reader what they are looking for with minimum effort. Reading shouldn’t be hard. You should be able to lay things out, present things to people in a way that it’s easy. I said, ‘I want a paper that readers will be able to read and enjoy. I want a paper that advertisers will be proud to put their advertisements into.’ The Observer has so much smartness to it, but it was putting forth the material in a way that was hard to decipher…. We really crashed the staff and we went from producing 30 items a week to almost 50 items a week in the paper. The metabolism of the newsroom changed dramatically…. One time there was a reporter working somewhere else, whose stuff I liked, and I said, ‘Peter, we should look at hiring him.’ And Peter said, ‘I would, but he violates the one principle I have: Against the hiring of assholes.’