12/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Jared Kushner Discusses Future Of Newspapers, The New York Observer : "I'm Definitely Scared"

New York media types are not easily startled, but when Jared Kushner became the Big Apple's newest newspaper proprietor, more than a few eyebrows were raised. The son of a New Jersey property millionaire, Kushner reputedly paid $10m for the weekly New York Observer. He was 25 years old and had graduated from Harvard just three years previously.

The Observer occupies a unique position in the media firmament to go with its distinctive pink newsprint. Founded in 1987 by the leftwing investment banker Arthur Carter, it is known for gossipy long reads about pop culture, politics and property - making it a kind of cross between the Financial Times and Grazia - and is required reading for New York's political, media and celebrity elites. It is where Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City column first appeared in 1994, and Observer scoops have included revealing Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi's divorce. More recently, it has been the first to report on many of the crises afflicting American media.

But the digital age has seen the paper's fortunes wane: it has annual losses of $2m and circulation is barely above 50,000. "With regards to leverage our company is now conservatively leveraged with no real maturities coming in the next few years. We see this market as ripe with opportunities and hope to stay active," says Kushner.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Kushner admits to being worried about the industry, given that American papers have been undergoing a collective nervous breakdown of late. " I'm definitely scared about newspapers," he admits. "The problem is nobody wants to catch a falling knife and nobody knows where things will stabilise. The value of newspapers has dropped significantly." Is the worst over? "I think we still have more pain to be felt."

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