2:30 pm Aug. 22, 2012
After sending this week's New York Observer to the printer last night, the newsroom staff headed south to Old Town, the 120-year-old Flatiron District watering hole.
They were at the scene of many a former Observer staffer's send-off to bid farewell to Elizabeth Spiers, who resigned as editor earlier this month after coming into disagreement with the paper's owner, Jared Kushner, over the amount of resources he was willing to continue sinking into the weekly.
There, over beers, nachos and wings from the bar, Spiers was presented with her parting gift: A mock front page in which her likeness was illustrated by "Times Square's finest sidewalk artists," as one insider described the local caricaturists commissioned by several interns to immortalize their outgoing boss.
The lead headline? "CROSSING SPIERS: Observer Editor Elizabeth Abdicates Office After All Enemies Set Afire."
The journalists were joined by Christopher Barnes, outgoing president of the Observer, who resigned at the same time as Spiers did "to start a company he has been working on for some time," as Kushner put it in an Aug. 2 staff memo. (Kushner did not attend last night's gathering.)
For her swan-song edition, Spiers went out in style: Observer institution George Gurley returned to the salmon paper's pages for her final issue with a lead feature on Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand ("Jump on the Rand Wagon!"). The accompanying artwork was contributed by Drew Friedman, one of The Observer's longstanding illustrators. The bullpen gave her a round of applause after the paper was out the door around 7 p.m.
For Spiers, an entrepreneurial editor who rode the mid-aughts New York blog wave to the top of the Observer's masthead, it was one last chance to sign off on a carefully crafted print edition before diving back into the world of fund-raising and startups.
Her immediate goal, she told Capital, is to find backers for a health and wellness website she plans to launch with both a content and a retail component.
Spiers also will consult on the Observer's sales side through November.
Aaron Gell, previously executive editor, is the new editor in chief, making him the paper's fifth in just three years.
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