Peter Kaplan (left) and Jared Kushner in a 2008 photo. (Credit: Stuart Ramson, New York Observer/Wikimedia Commons.)

Peter Kaplan, a longtime editor of the brash and influential local newspaper the New York Observer, died Friday evening from cancer, according to the The New York Times. He was 59 years old. In his fifteen years as editor-in-chief of The Observer, Kaplan had an enormous influence on not just the current New York City journalism landscape, but on online publishing overall. The snarky, sarcastic voice he cultivated in writers at the Observer when he started in 1994 went on to permeate many online publications of the early 2000s, including Gawker and The Awl, where top Observer alumni ended up working. Kaplan also famously hired Candace Bushnell to write the columns that would serve as the basis of Sex and the City, and oversaw Nikki Finke, who later left to create Deadline. His personality was lampooned in two popular parody twitter accounts, Cranky Kaplan and Wise Kaplan. After leaving the Observer in 2009, he was hired at Condé Nast and oversaw the Fairchild Fashion Group of publications.