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Gawker’s Founding Editor Named Editor-in-Chief of the New York Observer

Elizabeth Spiers hired by paper; also: Randy Cohen, Deborah Solomon out at New York Times Magazine

Two high-profile job changes in the New York media world on Friday.

First, Elizabeth Spiers, the founding editor of Gawker, former editor of Mediabistro and blog entrepreneur, is taking over as editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, the company announced today.

Spiers, who founded the blogs Dealbreaker, Above the Law and Fashionista, will oversee both print and digital at the Observer.

Kyle Pope, the current editor, will "stay on until the end of March in an advisory role," the Observer said.

It's a bit of a coup for Jared Kushner, the paper's young owner, in that Spiers (pictured) is a big name in New York media. But the salmon-colored weekly has also had trouble retaining its top editors — Spiers will be the fourth editor in less than two years.

“I am very excited to be working with Elizabeth to further build on the great progress we have made over the past few years," Kushner said in the announcement. "She will be instrumental in taking our print and online products to the next level."

Meanwhile, New York magazine is reporting that Randy Cohen, the New York Times Magazine's popular "Ethicist" columnist, is leaving. Ariel Kaminer, the Times City Critic columnist, will replace him.

Cohen's departure follows a string of masthead changes for the Times magazine under new editor Hugo Lindgren, who according to New York mag recently "sent Deborah Solomon," its "Questions For" columnist, "packing," too.

A representative for the Times did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, though a press representative later confirmed Cohen and colleague Deborah Solomon's departures via Twitter. Cohen's column has been running since at least 1999.

"A couple of contracts were not renewed," New York Times representative Robert Christie tweeted in response to an inquiry about Cohen and Solomon's job status. "No one fired."

UPDATE: Here's the press release on Cohen from the Times:

NEW YORK, February 4, 2011 – Ariel Kaminer will become the Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine beginning in March.  The column responds to ethical dilemmas posed by readers each week.  She will continue to write The Times’s City Critic column, which explores the urban experience for the Metropolitan section.  Current Ethicist, Randy Cohen, is leaving the Times to pursue a new radio show.

Previously, Ms. Kaminer was editor of Arts & Leisure and worked at The New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. Kaminer served as the inaugural editor of The New York Times Magazine’s The Way We Live Now section and was instrumental in the development of the Ethicist column.

"We are excited about the fresh new perspective and enthusiasm that Ariel will bring to the column,” said Hugo Lindgren, editor of The New York Times Magazine.  “As Times readers know, she is a terrific writer with an original voice and a wonderful sense of humor.  She is not only familiar with the Ethicist column, she helped usher it into the world, and we feel very confident that it is being passed from one good set of hands to another.”

Mr. Lindgren continued, “We are also indebted to Randy for his 12 years at the magazine.  He lived and breathed the role and made the column one of the most popular pages in the magazine.  We wish him well in his next pursuit, which is developing a program for public radio called “A Question of Ethics."