The Village Voice

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Contents

The Village Voice
The Village Voice.svg
Type Alternative weekly
Format Tabloid
Founder(s)Ed Fancher
Dan Wolf
John Wilcock
Norman Mailer
FoundedOct. 26, 1955
Headquarters 80 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
U.S. [1]
Circulation 120,000 (2016)
ISSN 0042-6180
Website villagevoice.com
The Cooper Square former head office of the paper Village Voice (48072654421).jpg
The Cooper Square former head office of the paper
Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff; photo by Tom Pich Hentoff bio.jpg
Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff; photo by Tom Pich

The Village Voice was an American news and culture paper, known for being the country's first alternative newsweekly. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer, the Voice began as a platform for the creative community of New York City. It is still kept alive online.

An alternative newspaper is a type of newspaper that eschews comprehensive coverage of general news in favor of stylized reporting, opinionated reviews and columns, investigations into edgy topics and magazine-style feature stories highlighting local people and culture. Its news coverage is more locally focused, and their target audiences are younger than those of daily newspapers. Typically, alternative newspapers are published in tabloid format and printed on newsprint. Other names for such publications include alternative weekly, alternative newsweekly, and alt weekly, as the majority circulate on a weekly schedule.

John Wilcock was a British journalist known for his work in the underground press, as well as his travel guide books.

Norman Mailer American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film maker, actor and political candidate

Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor, and liberal political activist. His novel The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948 and brought him early and wide renown. His 1968 nonfiction novel Armies of the Night won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as the National Book Award. His best-known work is widely considered to be The Executioner's Song, the 1979 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In over six decades of work, Mailer had eleven best-selling books, at least one in each of the seven decades after World War II—more than any other post-war American writer.

Over its 63 years of publication, The Village Voice received three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award. The Village Voice hosted a variety of writers and artists, including writer Ezra Pound, cartoonist Lynda Barry, and art critics Robert Christgau, Andrew Sarris, and J. Hoberman.

Pulitzer Prize U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) Joseph Pulitzer who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.

National Press Foundation organization

The National Press Foundation (NPF) is an American journalism organization focused on educational programs for journalists and issuing awards for accomplishment. All programs are free for accepted fellows with expenses covered; all awards carry cash awards. The National Press Foundation is affiliated with the Council of National Journalism Organizations.

Ezra Pound American poet and critic

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an expatriate American poet and critic, and a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement. His contribution to poetry began with his development of Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision, concision, and economy of language. His works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–1969).

In October 2015, The Village Voice changed ownership and severed all ties with former parent company Voice Media Group (VMG). [2] The Voice announced on August 22, 2017, that it would cease publication of its print edition and convert to a fully digital venture, on a date to be announced. [3] The final printed edition, featuring a 1965 photo of Bob Dylan on the cover, was distributed on September 21, 2017. [4] After halting print publication in 2017, the Voice provided daily coverage through its website until August 31, 2018, when it announced it was ceasing production of new editorial content. [5]

Bob Dylan American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, author, and artist

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than fifty years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. His lyrics during this period incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied pop-music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture.

History

Early history

Cover of the October 1955 issue 1955 October cover The Village Voice.jpg
Cover of the October 1955 issue

The Village Voice was launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, and Norman Mailer [6] on October 26, 1955, from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village; that was its initial coverage area, which expanded to other parts of the city by the 1960s. In 1960, it moved from 22 Greenwich Avenue to 61 Christopher Street in a landmark triangular corner building adjoining Sheridan Square, and a few feet west of the Stonewall Inn; [7] then, from the 1970s through 1980, at 11th Street and University Place; and then Broadway and 13th Street. It moved to Cooper Square in the East Village in 1991, and in 2013, to the Financial District. [8]

Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Greenwich Village often referred to by locals as simply "the Village", is a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, New York City, within Lower Manhattan. Broadly, Greenwich Village is bounded by 14th Street to the north, Broadway to the east, Houston Street to the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Greenwich Village also contains several subsections, including the West Village west of Seventh Avenue and the Meatpacking District in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village.

Christopher Street thoroughfare in Manhattan, United States

Christopher Street is a street in the West Village neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is the continuation of 9th Street west of Sixth Avenue.

Stonewall Inn Gay tavern and historical monument in New York City

The Stonewall Inn, often shortened to Stonewall, is a gay bar and recreational tavern in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City, and the site of the Stonewall riots of 1969, which is widely considered to be the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

Early columnists of the 1950s and 1960s included Jonas Mekas, who explored the underground film movement in his "Film Journal" column; Linda Solomon, who reviewed the Village club scene in the "Riffs" column; and Sam Julty, who wrote a popular column on car ownership and maintenance. John Wilcock wrote a column every week for the paper's first ten years. Another regular from that period was the cartoonist Kin Platt, who did weekly theatrical caricatures. Other prominent regulars have included Peter Schjeldahl, Ellen Willis, Jill Johnston, Tom Carson, and Richard Goldstein.

Jonas Mekas Lithuanian filmmaker

Jonas Mekas was a Lithuanian American filmmaker, poet, and artist who has often been called "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema". His work has been exhibited in museums and at festivals worldwide.

'Linda Solomon is an American music critic and editor. Although she has written about various aspects of popular culture, her main focus has been on folk music, blues, R&B, jazz and country music. Living at 95 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village during the early 1960s, she became a columnist for The Village Voice, capturing Village night life in club reviews for the weekly "Riffs" column.

Kin Platt (1911–2003) was an American writer-artist, painter, sculptor, caricaturist and comics artist, best known for penning radio comedy and animated TV series, as well as children's mystery novels, for one of which he received the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

For more than 40 years, Wayne Barrett was the newspaper's muckraker, covering New York real estate developers and politicians, including Donald Trump. The material has become a valuable resource for reporters covering the president today. [5]

The Voice has published investigations of New York City politics, as well as reporting on national politics, with arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews. Writers for the Voice have received three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1981 (Teresa Carpenter), [9] 1986 (Jules Feiffer) [10] and 2000 (Mark Schoofs). [11] The paper has, almost since its inception, recognized alternative theater in New York through its Obie Awards. [12] The paper's "Pazz & Jop" music poll, started by Robert Christgau in the early 1970s, is released annually and remains an influential survey of the nation's music critics. In 1999, film critic J. Hoberman and film section editor Dennis Lim began a similar Village Voice Film Poll for the year in film. In 2001, the Voice sponsored its first music festival, Siren Festival, a free annual event every summer held at Coney Island. The event moved to the lower tip of Manhattan in 2011, and was re-christened the "4knots Music Festival", a reference to the speed of the East River's current. [13]

The Voice was known for its staunch support for gay rights, and it published an annual Gay Pride issue every June. However, early in its history, the newspaper had a reputation as having a homophobic slant. While reporting on the Stonewall riots of 1969, the newspaper referred to the riots as "The Great Faggot Rebellion". [14] Two reporters, Howard Smith and Lucian Truscott IV, both used the words "faggot" and "dyke" in their articles about the riots. (These words were not commonly used by homosexuals to refer to each other at this time.) Smith and Truscott retrieved their press cards from the Voice offices, which were very close to the bar, as the trouble began; they were among the first journalists to record the event, Smith being trapped inside the bar with the police, and Truscott reporting from the street. [15] After the riot, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) attempted to promote dances for gays and lesbians in the Voice, but were not allowed to use the words "gay" or "homosexual", which the newspaper considered derogatory. The newspaper changed its policy after the GLF petitioned it to do so. [16] Over time, the Voice changed its stance, and, in 1982, became the second organization in the US known to have extended domestic partner benefits. Jeff Weinstein, an employee of the paper and shop steward for the publishing local of District 65 UAW, negotiated and won agreement in the union contract to extend health, life insurance, and disability benefits to the "spouse equivalents" of its union members. [17]

The Voice's competitors in New York City include New York Observer and Time Out New York . Seventeen alternative weeklies around the United States are owned by the Voice's former parent company Village Voice Media. The film section writers and editors also produced a weekly Voice Film Club podcast. [18]

In 1996, after decades of carrying a cover price, the Voice switched from a paid weekly to a free, alternative weekly. The Voice website was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award in 2001 [19] and the Editor & Publisher EPpy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service – Weekly, Community, Alternative & Free in 2003. [20]

In 2005, the Phoenix alternative weekly chain New Times Media purchased the company and took the Village Voice Media name. Previous owners of The Village Voice or of Village Voice Media have included co-founders Fancher [21] and Wolf, [6] New York City Councilman Carter Burden, [6] New York Magazine founder Clay Felker, Rupert Murdoch, and Leonard Stern of the Hartz Mountain empire.

Acquisition by New Times Media

After The Village Voice was acquired by New Times Media in 2005, the publication's key personnel changed. The Voice was then managed by two journalists from Phoenix, Arizona.

In April 2006, the Voice dismissed music editor Chuck Eddy. [22] Four months later, the newspaper sacked longtime music critic Robert Christgau. In January 2007, the newspaper fired sex columnist and erotica author Rachel Kramer Bussel; long-term creative director Ted Keller, art director Minh Oung, fashion columnist Lynn Yeager and Deputy Art Director LD Beghtol were laid off or fired soon afterward. Editor in chief Donald Forst resigned in December 2005. Doug Simmons, his replacement, was sacked in March 2006 after it was discovered that a reporter had fabricated portions of an article. Simmons' successor, Erik Wemple, resigned after two weeks. His replacement, David Blum, was fired in March 2007. Tony Ortega then held the position of editor in chief from 2007 to 2012.

The sacking of Nat Hentoff, who worked for the paper from 1958 to 2008, led to further criticism of the management by some of its current writers, Hentoff himself, and by the Voice's ideological rival paper National Review , which referred to Hentoff as a "treasure". [23] [24] At the end of 2011, Wayne Barrett, who had written for the paper since 1973, was laid off. Fellow muckraking investigative reporter Tom Robbins then resigned in solidarity. [25]

Voice Media Group

Village Voice Media executives Scott Tobias, Christine Brennan and Jeff Mars bought Village Voice Media's papers and associated web properties from its founders in September 2012, and formed the Denver-based Voice Media Group. [26]

In May 2013, The Village Voice editor Will Bourne and deputy editor Jessica Lustig told The New York Times that they were quitting the paper rather than executing further staff layoffs. [27] Both had been recent appointments. By then, the Voice had employed five editors since 2005. Following Bourne's and Lustig's departure, Village Media Group management fired three of the Voice's longest-serving contributors: gossip and nightlife columnist Michael Musto, restaurant critic Robert Sietsema, and theater critic Michael Feingold, all of whom had been writing for the paper for decades. [28] [29] [30] Feingold was rehired as a writer for The Village Voice in January 2016. [31]

In July 2013, Voice Media Group executives named Tom Finkel as editor. [32]

Peter Barbey ownership and construction

Peter Barbey, through the privately owned investment company Black Walnut Holdings LLC, purchased The Village Voice from Voice Media Group in October 2015. [33] Barbey is a member of one of America's wealthiest families. [34] The family has had ownership interest in the Reading Eagle , a daily newspaper serving the city of Reading, Pennsylvania and the surrounding region, for many years. Barbey serves as president and CEO of the Reading Eagle Company, and holds the same roles at The Village Voice. After taking over ownership of the Voice, Barbey named Joe Levy, formerly of Rolling Stone , as interim editor in chief, [35] and Suzan Gursoy, formerly of Ad Week , as publisher. [36] In December 2016, Barbey named Stephen Mooallem, formerly of Harper's Bazaar , as editor in chief. [37] Mooallem resigned in May 2018, and was not replaced before the publication's shutdown. [5]

Under the Barbey ownership, advertisements for escort agencies and phone sex services came to an end. [5]

On August 31, 2018, it was announced that the Village Voice would cease production and lay off half of its staff. The remaining staff would be kept on for a limited period for archival projects. [38] [39] [40] The last news article published was an August 31 piece by freelancer Steven Wishnia about tenants returning to their building after safety concerns had prompted its evacuation. [5] Two weeks after the Village Voice ceased operations on September 13, co-founder John Wilcock died in California at the age of 91.

Although The Village Voice announced in August 2018 that it would cease publication, its website, along with its Twitter and Facebook accounts, is still active and running in 2019. [41]

Contributors

The Voice has published columns and works by writers such as Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, staff writer and author Ted Hoagland, Colson Whitehead, Tom Stoppard, Paul Lukas, Lorraine Hansberry, Lester Bangs, Allen Ginsberg and Joshua Clover. Former editors have included Clay Felker.

The newspaper has also been a host to underground cartoonists. In addition to mainstay Jules Feiffer, whose cartoon ran for decades in the paper until its cancellation in 1996, well-known cartoonists featured in the paper have included R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Stan Mack, Mark Alan Stamaty, Ted Rall, Tom Tomorrow, Ward Sutton, Ruben Bolling and M. Wartella.

Backpage sex trafficking

Backpage, a classified advertisement website owned by the same parent company as The Village Voice, was used as a hub for sex trafficking of both adults and minors. In 2012, Nicholas Kristof wrote an article in The New York Times detailing a young woman's account of being sold on Backpage. [42] The Village Voice released an article entitled "What Nick Kristof Got Wrong" accusing Kristof of fabricating the story and ignoring journalistic standards. [43] Kristof responded, noting that the Voice did not dispute the column, but rather tried to show how the timeline in Kristof's original piece was inaccurate. In this rebuttal, he not only justified his original timeline, but expressed sadness "to see Village Voice Media become a major player in sex trafficking, and to see it use its journalists as attack dogs for those who threaten its corporate interests", noting another instance of The Village Voice attacking journalists reporting on Backpage's role in sex trafficking. [44]

After repeated calls for a boycott of The Village Voice, the company was sold to Voice Media Group. [45]

See also

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Further reading