‘Observer’ surrenders the pink

observer-surrenders-pink
A recent 'New York Observer.' ()
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The New York Observer is set to trade in its most distinctive feature—the salmon-colored paper it's printed on—for basic newspaper white.

Details about the redesign-in-progress have begun to trickle out. And if current plans hold, the Observer will see a much more intensive transformation than we reported last week.

The paper has been printed on salmon stock since its founding as an upscale community weekly in 1987. Under longtime editor Peter Kaplan, recently deceased, "the curiously pink paper" was transformed into the accessory of choice for the city's most well-informed elites and was easily identifiable because its distinctive color. (The growing prevalence of The Financial Times among that same set has lessened the cool-factor somewhat.)

In the notoriously difficult-to-navigate paper market, it has sometimes been difficult to negotiate the purchase of rolls of salmon newsprint. And advertisers have not always loved the fact that there is no true white in the paper, since salmon alters carefully calibrated color schemes created for advertising displays. 

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A specimen of the new design, which is currently scheduled to hit newsstands in February, is now being shown to advertisers. According to sources with direct knowledge of the Observer's latest media kit, white paper is not the only change.

The current plans also call for a return to the tabloid format that the Observer first adopted when real estate scion Jared Kushner, then 25, bought the paper back in 2006. (It became a broadsheet again in 2011.) There will be weekly sub-sections for "arts" and "style." Think Women's Wear Daily minus the trade-paper overtones.

As for the logo, that's supposed to change, too. The new design makes the font look more "modern" and "contemporary," sources said. One person who's seen it described the letters as "wispy," noting that "New York" and "Observer" are two different sizes. The trademark, trenchcoat-clad character looking at the sun setting behind the Manhattan skyline that has always separated those words? He'll be moving somewhere else.

Which brings us to the necessary caveat: While these are the concepts being presented to ad buyers, it's possible that any one of them could change by the anticipated February relaunch.

A spokesperson for the Observer declined to comment on the changes or the motivations for them.