Former ‘Observer’ editor Aaron Gell to leave the paper, after a demotion

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Aaron Gell. ()
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Earlier this month, after Jared Kushner appointed a new editor, Ken Kurson, to run his New York Observer, interim editor Aaron Gell told us he wasn't sure whether he'd stick around in the diminished title of executive editor.

Now Gell, a Radar and W veteran who's been at the Observer since 2010, has come to a decision: He announced to staff via email today that he is leaving the paper for a new gig consulting on an unnamed startup.

The news was first reported on Twitter by W.W.D.'s Erik Maza.

Gell's memo didn't specify whether or not he resigned, and he declined to talk about it when reached for comment.

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But sources familiar with the situation said that Gell and Observer management couldn't come to an agreement on the terms of him sticking around to develop new home and styles sections for the paper that would replace its advertorial supplements.

Gell is not the only recent departure. Real-estate reporter Matt Chaban recently left for a new job covering the same beat for Crain's. Observer Media Group also just hired its first C.E.O., Kushner's brother-in-law Joseph Meyer.

Kurson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here's Gell's full note to staff:

Dear Observer-ers,

Back in August, at that first edit staff meeting, I joked that on an existential level, we're all interim. It was a good line, funnier then, now kind of deep...also more true than I quite grasped at the time.

Guys, I'm weirdly elated, a bit misty and slightly bewildered to report that my time at the Observer has come to a close. Wasn't it crazy? I had so much fun I am not even sure it happened at all. Does any of this exist? Wait, what?

Anyway, as I have often said: Working for the Observer has been the best experience of my career; I credit that to all of you, especially, but also to Peter and all the writers and editors who passed through and helped create a newspaper that despite, ahem, everything has remained such a special place to work. It has been an absolute blast. There really is no publication like it in the world. Maybe for a reason, but still.

Of all the many, many things I'm proud of--including almost every word we published (I'm not even going to start naming individual stories, because I mean, the egos), our explosive traffic growth (really!), telling an Act of God to "Blow Me" in 70-pt. type, messing with the CIA, pulling a Kanye at the holiday party (with similar results), and all the rest, the thing I'm most proud of is having never taken any of it for granted.

The whole ride has been just completely ridiculous in the best way--in a way I should have outgrown a decade ago and hopefully never will. Don't you, either.

As some of the best, most dogged reporters in New York, you will undoubtedly have questions. I'll make this easy:

1. Yes, I have a gig.
2. Consulting for a start up.
3. Not telling yet.
4. No, it is not the Manti Te'o's girlfriend of jobs!
5. The office is like three blocks away.
6. Of course, you can take me to lunch. Name the day.
7. You'll be fine. Remember, it's just a newspaper. And a website. Four websites, wow.
8. Haha, good question. Ask Jared. ;D

and most important...

9. THIS Friday, January 25, 7 pm, The Coalyard, 102 First Ave. (between 6th and 7th Streets).

I probably forgot someone on this email. Didn't mean to. Please pass this on to anyone who might like to come--including Joe Pompeo, but only if it's off the record!

Shine on,
Aaron