Simon Doonan, a longtime New York Observer writer who’s one of the salmon-coloured weekly’s most valuable brand names, is leaving the paper, The Wire has learned.We hear he’ll be starting a new column for Slate, whose chairman, Jacob Weisberg, has been courting him for some time.
UPDATE – Weisberg emailed us to confirm.
Doonan, the creative director at Barneys and a high profile figure in the fashion world, has never been on staff at The Observer, but he’s written a popular column since 2000. He was one of the biggest names on its roster, and one of only a few remaining Observer writers who have been with the paper for longer than the past five or so years.
[DISCLOSURE: I was a reporter and editor at The Observer from January 2008 until this past April.]
Doonan is the latest departure in a period of rapid turnover at The Observer that began at the start of the year.
In recent weeks, blogger Molly Fischer resigned to take a job working under Daily News gossip and Observer alum Frank DiGiacomo. Econmic development reporter Eliot Brown gave notice that he will be leaving to cover Albany for The Wall Street Journal. And Alexandra Jacobs, the longest-serving editor still at the paper, took a job as an editor at the style section of The New York Times.
With Doonan and Jacobs both heading out the door, it leaves a huge gap in The Observer’s fashion and style coverage. The timing is unfortunate seeing as how next week is the Fashion Week issue, which is a big advertising opportunity for the paper. We’re told Jacobs will be contributing, but Doonan will not.
Meanwhile, The Observer’s publisher, Christopher Barnes, is said to be “at war” with editor-in-chief Kyle Pope, who took the reigns last November following the resignation of interim editor Tom McGeveran.
Reached via email, Pope said: “Simon has been a star of the Observer for 10 years, and he’ll be missed. But, as he said, it’s time for someone new to step up. We’re searching now for who that someone will be.”
Doonan’s smart, tongue-in-cheek musings will surely be missed by readers (and advertisers).
Over the years, he’s contributed a trove of memorable pieces, including a 2002 profile of Bobby Trendy (the late Anna Nicole Smith’s wacky interior designer), and one of the earliest reports on — wait for it — anal bleaching. In January, he fired shots at Andrew Breitbart in a column about decorating the White House for Christmas.
We have an email out to Doonan and will update if we hear back.
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