Choire Sicha is leaving the New York Observer to become Lead Editor at Gawker.com — returning to the company he left two years ago for the Observer. He replaces current Gawker.com Managing Editor Chris Mohney, who will be moving to an as-yet-unannounced post within Gawker Media in the short term (contrary to a posting on New York's "Daily Intelligencer" blog, which broke the news of Sicha's move earlier today.)
Sicha confirmed the move to ETP last night, saying "It is my sincerest wish that I could spend the rest of my life working alternately for Nick Denton and for Peter Kaplan, who is the great newspaper editor of our time. I only wish I could do so at the same time."
Sicha has managed the next best thing, counting both as his sole employers since August 2003, when he replaced founding Gawker editor Elizabeth Spiers at the helm of the blog, at that point still in the initial stages of growth as the first and flagship of the Gawker Media stable. Sicha ceded the position a year later to Jessica Coen while Sicha moved upstairs to oversee all Gawker Media editorial and work on launching news-aggregator Sploid, which Sicha edited with current-Wonkete West Coast Bureau Chief* Ken Layne until he left to be a senior editor at the Observer in May 2005, responsible for the popular "Transom" column (as well as writing thoughtful long-form articles, pithy blog posts on the Daily Transom and Media Mob blogs, and publishing hilarious IM exchanges between himself and curmudgeonly "Off The Record" editor Tom Scocca, often on the subject of Alex Kuczynski).
So, what does the new job have that the old job doesn't — something that the old job was supposed to offer when it was the new job that got him to leave the old job which is now his new job? We asked Sicha to clarify.
"Working [at the Observer] is awesome. I recommend it to everyone," he told us in an instant-message exchange. "I was coming up on two years, and I felt the need for a change. It's also true that I was never in love with being tied to an office... Did you know that newspapers are non-smoking now?"
Sicha denied that the move could be taken as a sign of things deteriorating at the Observer in the wake of its takeover by Jared Kushner, which, it has been quietly rumored, has led to some unhappiness on the part of the staff. Said Sicha: "It could be equally taken as a sign of things about to deteriorate at Gawker." (Also rumored: Denton originally tried to woo Sicha back to the fold this summer, and Sicha briefly accepted before deciding to remain at the Observer.)
Sicha will re-up at Gawker beginning in early February, working with current editors Alex Balk and Emily Gould plus associate editor Doree Shafrir, and, despite his workplace aversion, will occassionally be working out of Gawker's Crosby Street office ("But I promise never to brunch at Balthazar"). Sicha will report to Gawker Media Managing Editor Lockhart Steele, who took over Sicha's position (though of course there's a lot more Gawker Media to manage now). And, of course, the move reunites him with Denton, to whom Sicha did not refer in an email as "Dr. Evil."
Top Gawker Editor Canned, Replaced With Gawker Vet [Daily Intelligencer]
Letter from the Ex-Managing Editor: I Just Beat People Up [Gawker]
Changing Of The Jobs [Choire Sicha.com]
*Apparently, that is actually a position.