Peter W. Kaplan

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Peter Wennik Kaplan (February 10, 1954 – November 29, 2013[1]) was an American[2] editor known for modernizing New Journalism for the digital age. He was the Editor-In-Chief of The New York Observer, a weekly newspaper, for 15 years. The Kingdom of New York, an anthology of articles from the famously pink paper, was co-edited by Kaplan.[3]

In 2010, he worked as the editorial director of Fairchild Publications' Fairchild Fashion Group, where he helped oversee the relaunch of M, a men's magazine, and oversaw Women's Wear Daily, Footwear News, Menswear, the newly formed Fairchild books division, and other ventures.[4][5]

Media appearances[edit]

On November 6, 2009, Kaplan appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, where he discussed the future of newspapers with regards to the Internet and mobile devices such as the Amazon Kindle, and Apple's iPad.[6]

Two former editors from The New York Observer, Peter Stevenson and Jim Windolf, turned Kaplan into a Twitter character with two personalities, "Wise Kaplan" and "Cranky Kaplan," followed by insiders in the New York journalism community.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Kaplan was born in South Orange, New Jersey his mother a psychotherapist and his father owner and President of clothing manufacturer Complex Industries Corp. [2][8] While at Columbia High School he joined the newspaper, The Columbian. He had two brothers, the writer James Kaplan and Rob Kaplan, an entertainment executive and business owner. He went on to obtain his degree from Harvard University[2] in 1976. His college roommate was Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.


Kaplan's early career started at The New York Times, Esquire and Manhattan, inc. magazine where he served under both Jane Amsterdam and editor, Clay Felker.

In the early nineties he served as an Editorial Director at Conde Nast Traveler and a producer at The Charlie Rose Show. He then served as Editor-in-Chief of The New York Observer, from 1994 to 2009.

At The Observer, Kaplan worked with the following writers:

  • Gossip columnist Frank DiGiacomo
  • New York Times editor Alexandra Jacobs
  • New Yorker staff writer Nick Paumgarten
  • Choire Sicha, the founder of The Awl
  • Candace Bushnell—whose column "Sex and the City," which Kaplan named himself, became a pop culture sensation even as the paper that printed it remained relatively obscure.[9]
  • Gabriel Sherman, the media reporter who chronicled Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes' affect on presidential politics in his book, "The Loudest Voice in the Room." Sherman is now national affairs editor at New York magazine. [10]


His parents were both from New York and he was one of three boys. He died of cancer in New York City on November 29, 2013, according to his wife, Lisa Chase,[11] an editor at Elle. The couple had a son named Davey.[12] His first marriage was to Audrey Walker and had three children: Caroline, Charlie and Peter Walker.[2][11]


  1. ^ "Peter Kaplan, Who Brought a Cutting Edge to The New York Observer, Dies at 59, The New York Times, November 29, 2013. Retrieved: November 29, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Feitelberg, Rosemary (1 December 2013). "Fairchild's Peter W. Kaplan: An Editor's Editor". WWD. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Harper Collins, The Kingdom of New York by The New York Observer, accessed November 6, 2009.
  4. ^ New York Post, Kaplan goes to Fairchild, written 15 July 2010, accessed 27 August 2010.
  5. ^ Fairchild Biography
  6. ^, Peter Kaplan Guest Page, accessed 19 February 2011.
  7. ^ The genius of the Wise and Cranky Kaplan Twitter feeds, "", Updated November 30, 2013
  8. ^ Lee, Edmund. "Peter W. Kaplan, Who Made News From New York’s Rich, Dies at 59", Bloomberg News, November 30, 2013. Accessed December 1, 2013. "Peter Wennik Kaplan was born on Feb. 10, 1954, in South Orange, New Jersey. . His father, Robert, was owner and President of Complex Industries, Corp, a New York based clothing firm. His mother, Roberta Wennik, was a psychotherapist with a doctorate in social work. Kaplan grew up in northern New Jersey, making the occasional trip to New York."
  9. ^ "The Chronicler of the Kingdom of New York: Peter Kaplan 1954-2013" The New York Observer, November 30, 2013. Retrieved: November 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "Gabriel Sherman - about "Gabriel Sherman's official website." Retrieved: August 14, 2015
  11. ^ a b Matthews, Karen (November 30, 2013). "Ex-New York Observer editor Kaplan dies at 59". Comcast Entertainment News. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ Heller, Nathan. "The Cranky Wisdom of Peter Kaplan, New Republic, September 14, 2012. Retrieved on July 30, 2013.

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