The New York Observer said goodbye to Peter Kaplan for good this week. Today, they've laid off a huge portion of their writing staff—including some of their very best [Updated below]:

Here are the names we've heard from a good source, although they haven't been officially confirmed by the paper yet:

Matt Haber
Spencer Morgan
Doree Shafrir
Chris Shott
Peter Stevenson
John Vorwald
George Gurley

Haber and Doree are both Gawker veterans, and both are extremely good bloggers and writers of real journalism, too. Doree just broke the freaking Hipster Grifter story, for god's sake. Spencer Morgan is Manhattan's finest chronicler of annoying men. The paper is clearly in very, very tough financial shape.

Young rich kid Jared Kushner bought the Observer almost three years ago, and it's doubtful he's made any money on it yet. But this year things are just getting bleak. Peter Kaplan, who shaped everything about the elite-tracking paper, departed for a cushier gig at Conde Nast; his replacement, Tom McGeveran, gets these layoffs as his first task as boss.

Kushner and Kaplan didn't see the future of the paper the same way; Kaplan may have decided to leave rather than see the paper gutted. Earlier this month, Kushner fired the NYO's cleaning person. Now he's fired a good chunk of the writers. Last night, we spoke to a former NYO freelancer who said the paper is no longer using freelancers, in order to save money. Either the paper will be getting drastically thinner, or working its remaining writers unto death, or going to an all-volunteer format.

We've left a message with Tom McGeveran, the new editor, and we'll update this information as we hear more.

UPDATE: Rubenstein Communications just sent us this statement from the NYO:

Statement from Christopher Barnes, President, Observer Media Group –

Reducing the size of our reporting staff was not an easy decision to make. Unfortunately, the New York Observer is not immune to the economic pressures being felt industry-wide. The reality is: we have to cutback in order to move forward. This is an incredibly challenging time for newspapers, with newsrooms across the country trying to find ways to do more with less. But, I'm optimistic that the Observer will weather this storm and emerge stronger.

Hey, and speaking of PR—Here's a photo of Jared Kushner partying last night at the "Founders Club" mogulfest in NYC last night: