Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Village Voice to Kill Print Edition After 61 Years

Not a surprise -- but definitely marks the end of an era for the legendary alt-weekly that was co-founded by Normal Mailer back in 1955. The announcement comes as part of the ongoing effort by owner Peter Barbey, who purchased the Voice in October 2015 from Voice Media Group, to revitalize and re-imagine the Village Voice brand.

From HERE.

The paper said in a statement:
"When The Village Voice was converted into a free weekly in an effort to boost circulation back in 1996, it was at a time when Craigslist was in its infancy, Google and Facebook weren't yet glimmers in the eyes of their founders, and alternative weeklies -- and newspapers everywhere -- were still packed with classified advertising," Mr. Barbey said.
"Clearly a lot has changed since then. That business has moved online -- and so has the Voice's audience, which expects us to do what we do not just once a week, but every day, across a range of media, from words and pictures to podcasts, video, and even other forms of print publishing. This decision will allow us to move forward more freely in our pursuit of all of those avenues so that The Village Voice brand is not just once again viable, but vital."
Ad Age puts the move into perspective HERE.

UPDATE: Here's a wistful sendoff from Jesse Fox Mayshark, a former Times colleague, who eventually left journalism when he moved to Knoxville after we all got laid off:
Writing memoriams for dying newspapers is getting to be like writing them for your favorite '60s rockers. They're all different and they affect you in different ways, but the overall trajectory is unmistakeable. Accepting the "print" caveat in the headline, and trying not to be pessimistic about the "we're moving online along with our audience" spiel, this is still a loss. It's been coming for a while. The last few times I've been in New York, the Voice has been a trim little magazine, not the 200-page behemoth I loved. The disappearance of advertising didn't just cost it revenue, it cost some of its personality. Part of the great romantic appeal of the Voice to those of us in the hinterlands was the ongoing documentation of New York life in its ads for upcoming concerts, downtown galleries, classifieds (where you could look for a job and fantasize about moving to Manhattan) and personals of all conceivable variety. The writing gave the Voice its personality, but the ads gave it its electricity.  
Anyway, on the writing, I loved the critics. For better or worse, I learned a lot about writing from Village Voice music, movie and art reviews. (If it was for the worse, it was only because I couldn't nail that note of terse, playful authority.) I never really understood Wayne Barrett, his New York scandals were hard to parse from afar, but he made the city sound seamy. And Michael Musto made it sound like a wild, occasionally angry party. For me, the Voice was Travis Bickle New York, Ghostbusters New York, Liquid Sky New York. A piece of the real thing. 
In high school I read the Voice at a Rochester place called the Village Green, which was a combination mainstream bookstore, music store, gift store and newsstand. (The same combination I still find hard to resist at Books a Million.) They had magazines from all over, and the Voice was at the end of an aisle with the alternative comics and mystical health publications, not far from the actual adult material. It felt a little daring just going down there to read it. 
During my own stint in New York in my 30s, the Voice was still a valuable companion. It was online, but I preferred to pick up a print copy and take it to a bagel place for lunch. It made me feel like a New Yorker, or at least the idea of a New Yorker that the Voice had helped shape for me. I wanted to write for them, of course, but once I talked my way into an invite to pitch I realized I had no actual ideas. What I could I tell them about New York? So I just read it and argued with it in my head. 
Nostalgia for my idea of the Voice is really beside the point. Of course it can't be what it was, nothing can. It did what it did when some of us needed it to. So the print edition more than earns a warm send-off, whatever the future of the brand.


Former columnist Michael Musto weighs in on the news -- he says he took the high road, "for once!" -- HERE.


Henry Holland said...


I work in the auto digital advertising department at the Los Angeles Times. It's impossible not to think that I'm a passenger on a rapidly sinking ship. Yesterday, they announced the firing of the Publisher & 3 top editors and as I summed up the announcement to a co-worker: Blah blah blah blah blah digital blah blah blah blah blah. Very few people want to pay for news, digital advertising is a nightmare (even with two adblockers on my computer) and as much as I love the print edition of the paper as it's still the best way to read a story without have to keep scrolling down or clicking off ads that are embedded in the middle of an article, I get that the days of the print edition are numbered. RIP.

jaragon said...

The Voice printed some great gay writing from Arthur Bell to Michael Musto- not too mention all the dates from personals

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