OBSERVER’S NEW LOOK: The New York Observer will no longer be fishing for salmon-hued paper. After differentiating itself on newsstands as the only pink paper (besides The Financial Times of London) in New York City since its launch in 1987, the publication will finally lay the color to rest come Wednesday. That’s when the weekly will introduce its redesign as a magazine-styled tabloid that will rival The New York Times Magazine in both size and paper stock.
The Observer also will replace its mainstay covers on politicians and New York fixtures with actors and athletes, in a move towards becoming more celebrity focused. Wednesday’s issue will launch with Alan Cumming on its cover. The headline, “Alan Cumming, Polymath,” will run across the front page, along with a colorful illustration by Philip Burke of the Scottish actor. The feature, written by Drew Grant, was shot by photographer Chris Crisman, and has the 49-year-old thespian posing in a loft space wearing a stained T-shirt and jeans.
This story first appeared in the March 18, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The publication’s Web site, observer.com, home to blogs like Betabeat, Politicker, Gallerist and VSL, will also relaunch on the same day with a “cleaner, more streamlined” look, according to an insider.
The Observer has been under pressure in the past seven years since Jared Kushner purchased the paper for $10 million. Under his leadership, the title has seen five editors leave, from Elizabeth Spiers, who resigned in the summer of 2012, to Aaron Gell, who served as interim editor. Kushner last year appointed the Observer’s current editor Ken Kurson, a former editor at Esquire who coauthored “Leadership” with Rudy Giuliani, and was part of the former mayor’s failed run for the presidency.
Amidst a string of staff defections, Kurson made a major hire earlier this year with Ben Ryder Howe, who serves as deputy editor. Howe, who has written for The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and published a New York Times bestselling novel, “My Korean Deli,” is tasked with booking the publication’s covers.
Kurson alluded to changing the publication’s format to WWD in 2013.
“I don’t think it’s in need of a big overhaul,” he said. “It’s in need of a reinvigoration of energy. But six months later I might feel different.”