Former New York Observer Editor Peter Kaplan Tells Charlie Rose He's "Evangelical"S

Things To Watch Instead of Mad Men: the day Jared Kushner announced hiring Kyle Pope as the New York Observer's new editor, departed longtime Observer editor Peter Kaplan went on Charlie Rose. He gave some great quotes. Here's good storytelling.

Media junkies everywhere, young and old, this is crack-like goodness. Kaplan's supposed to be on the show to talk about a new compilation book from the New York Observer, but that's passed over pretty quickly for the good stuff. There's even a clip spliced in of former New York editor Clay Felker, who died last year, discussing what makes a great editor. Some of the more compelling lines:

  • Sadly, his only swipe at the New York Observer's (Michael Corleone-esque) owner Jared Kushner was a passive-aggressive pawing: "(Jared's positioning it) a little bit different than where I live." Classy, but like Jared, I wanted more blood.

  • On his departure: "I thought I had driven the car as far as it could go."

  • "I have an evangelical mission to save the part of the print media that I love. Which is, to me, sophisticated, arcane, a little bit of a throwback to the 20s, but also a 21st century medium that the internet was a direct assault on."

  • "All my mean friends on the internet say you can't put the genie back in the bottle..."

  • "Tina (Brown) is a lot stronger than I am."

  • "(The best New York editors) come from outside and bang on the door to try to understand it. The really great ones are desperate to understand New York City and are desperate to say what they don't know."

  • On how long it takes him to spot a great reporter: "About a day."

  • "I don't know what's going to happen. I have close friends who work in various (what I like to think of) as information supermarkets. Aggregation has undermined the American news process...It separates the news item from the news story. It's (by definition) a shallow landscape."

Interestingly enough, Kaplan at one point talks about the future of journalism returning to a pay model with a new medium—like, say, an Apple Tablet—that could shut out the broad sheet altogether and create a narrow outlet through which people would have to pay for something like, say, the New York Times (who are more or less cozying up with Apple in anticipation of the Tablet's 'impending' release).

I'd rather leave the futurism to someone else, but this kind of thinking seems a little reckless. Sure, the New York Times is pretty, and has great content, but isn't the information at the heart of every New York Times article—gathering it, compiling it, fact-checking and editing it—where a lot of the money is? And you can't charge people for information. A New York Times exclusive is only an exclusive for the minute or two before someone else has posted their Google-landgrab headline reporting on the New York Times' reporting.

Nevertheless! Kaplan's maybe-changing old-school methodology and the quality he put into his work is going to be interesting to watch as he tries to move whatever products he continues to move forward with as time goes on, which is to say nothing of whatever direction the New York Observer's going to take as well.