A significant number of the Observer’s skeleton staff has been let go less than a week after Ken Kurson resigned as editor in chief of Observer Media. The onetime salmon colored weekly newspaper, which Jared Kushner acquired in 2006, has been struggling to find its footing. Just after the presidential election in November, the Observer announced that it would cease print publication as part of a strategy to appeal to a national audience — one that relied heavily on a contributor model.
On Tuesday morning, four staffers were laid off including culture writer and web traffic driver Dana Schwartz, author of last summer’s open letter to Kushner which went viral, a business and tech editor who was hired only in the past month, a managing editor and a pop culture writer. The laid-off staffers were notified in one-on-one meetings with vice president of operations and controller for Observer Media Tom D’Agostino. It could not be determined if any of the remaining editorial staffers, which total around 12, will be let go.
“Like any other publication, the recent departure of its editor provides an opportunity to consider additional changes to ensure Observer’s continued growth and future success,” a representative from the Observer said, when asked if the company was planning to close.
Joseph Meyer, Kushner’s brother-in-law who has been acting as publisher since January, when Kushner went to serve as advisor to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, did little to reassure the staff, according to multiple sources. The only e-mail that was sent out following the layoffs was an announcement that Merin Curotto, who had various roles in the organization including overseeing the contributor’s network, would fill the role of managing editor on an interim basis. The role of editor in chief, however, remains open following Kurson’s abrupt departure.
Following Tuesday’s news, rumors resurfaced that David Pecker’s American Media Inc. was interested in acquiring the Observer. But according to a spokesman for AMI, which bought Us Weekly from Wenner Media in March, “there are no talks regarding the Observer.”