The Observer, formerly The New York Observer, is again without an editor in chief.
Ben Robinson, who only joined the outlet in February of last year, left Friday, WWD has learned. The online masthead has already been updated to remove his name and the role of editor in chief completely.
James Karklins, president of Observer Media, said that Robinson stepped down from his position and that there is no plan to fill his role.
“At this time, Observer is not replacing the editor in chief position and will continue to execute on our content strategy with our current editorial team, along with continued executive direction,” Karklins said.
The outlet — formerly a popular New York newspaper printed on light pink paper that launched the career of Candace Bushnell and had a lively tabloid flair — has been online-only since November 2016, when then-owner Jared Kushner decided to stop printing and put the publication into a family trust because his father-in-law Donald Trump had won the U.S. presidency. Kushner is now a presidential adviser, along with his wife Ivanka Trump, and his brother-in-law, Joseph Meyer, is chairman and publisher. Observer currently has an editorial staff of 10 with about two dozen freelancers contributing.
Since Kushner took over the title in 2006 at just 25 years old, the paper seems to have languished, in influence and web traffic, despite efforts to broaden its scope of coverage. Renaming it Observer in 2016 was an attempt to move away from an image as a regional title, but it might be the influence of Kushner’s family-led politics that did the most harm. The paper, once a rival of the popular and growing New York Magazine, was one of the very few in the country to endorse Trump for president in 2016 (others included The National Enquirer, now ensnared in an investigation involving Trump, and the Las Vegas Review Journal.)
Even before the election, Kushner brought in his friend Ken Kurson as editor in chief, making him the sixth to hold the position in almost as many years. Kurson was a writer (Esquire and Harper’s) and political consultant, having worked with a consulting firm of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (now a lawyer for Trump.) While he ran the publication from 2013, he left in early 2017 for a position with an executive advisory firm. Early last year it was reported that Kurson was being considered for an unknown position within the Trump White House, which has yet to come to fruition.
Meanwhile, the Observer sat without an editor in chief for nine months and eventually brought in Robinson, who had been chief creative officer at Thrillist, a popular web outlet focused on entertainment, food and travel aimed at a younger Millennial reader where he had been in various roles for a decade.