Sad holiday weekend news today. Peter W. Kaplan, the longtime editor of The New York Observer, has died at age 59 of cancer, The New York Times confirmed. Kaplan’s accomplishment was this: he took a salmon-colored weekly and made it a must read dissection on the glitter of Gotham power players. He injected the publication with relevance and invested his personal stamp, a love of dogged reporting on niche subjects like media, high finance and publishing, down to who sat where at lunch in Manhattan’s most important restaurants and who was getting fired in the magazine business and why. In transforming his publication into a must read, Kaplan’s tenure at The Observer reminded me of when Kurt Anderson, Graydon Carter and Tom Phillips launched Spy Magazine. They took a much more acerbic and satirical look at the subjects, but both were imprinted by the vision of editors. Kaplan could dish out the snark in pieces that were long, stylishly written and provided dish on inside baseball subjects. He unleashed writers including Sex and the City columnist Candace Bushnell, political journo Joe Conason, Frank DiGiacomo, and of course Nikki Finke, who honed her edgy reporting style under Kaplan before founding this website. This was during the last golden age of newspapers before the web changed everything, and Kaplan moved in 2010 to become editorial creative director at Conde Nast Traveler and then editorial director of Fairchild Fashion Media.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.