"Today is kind of a sucky day."
August 31, 2018 2:07 PM   Subscribe

The Village Voice has been shut downThe loss of the legendary New York publication is a tragedy for local media, alt-weeklies, and criticism.
For 63 years, New York’s most venerated alt-weekly, the Village Voice, has been an institution — not just for the city but for several generations of writers and critics whose careers were launched or inspired by the groundbreaking writing on art and popular culture found in its pages.
Now it’s gone.

On the Friday before Labor Day, Village Voice staffers found out the paper was being shut down. According to Gothamist, the paper’s owner, Peter Barbey, told the staff in a phone call that “due to the business realities, we’re going to stop publishing Village Voice new material.” Some staff members are being retained to “wind things down” and migrate the Voice’s archive online. The rest have been let go.

Barbey, a member of one of the wealthiest families in America, is currently the CEO and president of Reading Eagle Company, which also owns the Reading Eagle newspaper and the WEEU 830 AM radio station, both based in Reading, Pennsylvania. Barbey bought the paper in 2015 from Voice Media Group.

Almost exactly a year ago, on August 22, 2017, the paper announced that it would cease publishing a physical printed copy, which had for decades been available from ubiquitous red distribution boxes on New York’s street corners. The last printed issue of the Voice was dated September 21, 2017.
But apparently the move to digital wasn’t enough to save the publication.
posted by tonycpsu (63 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Double-plus ungood.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:18 PM on August 31, 2018 [12 favorites]

posted by General Malaise at 2:20 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Damn it. Not good news to enter Labor Day weekend with.

posted by lord_wolf at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

posted by OHenryPacey at 2:32 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Funny how no option was given for the editors and writers to buy it back and run it as a collective, for even in its online only state it was fact-checked and proofread and full of lively writing and insights, which is more then I can say about the other major NYC papers.
posted by The Whelk at 2:32 PM on August 31, 2018 [60 favorites]


Oh man, as a 90's kid growing up in the city this was a big part of my education, from the snarky op-eds and Tom Tomorrow cartoons in the front to the dirty ads and Savage Love in the back.

I especially loved the gossip column La Dulce Musto, even though I had no idea what Michael was talking about most of the time. It just seemed so clever.

Can anyone still in the city report on if the New York Press is still around?
posted by tarshish bound at 2:39 PM on August 31, 2018 [10 favorites]

posted by aspersioncast at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2018

I'm peculiarly angry about this even though I didn't really read it much. It had a deep reputation and it's a loss to journalism and makes me fear for my own local area independent weekly.
posted by hippybear at 2:42 PM on August 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

This reminds me of when the Knitting Factory folks closed it down and replaced it with the City Winery. The Village doesn't need an alternative Voice anymore, I guess, it's well-represented by the establishment. Godspeed to all the other indy weeklies out there, in places that haven't had their identities thoroughly bleached...
posted by tarshish bound at 2:46 PM on August 31, 2018 [8 favorites]

Their detailed articles about NYC police and government corruption were unparalleled and fearless. I'm thinking of the series on Bed-Stuy area officers who were recorded saying incriminating things about their extracurricular activities and abuses of power...
posted by TreeHugger at 2:46 PM on August 31, 2018 [18 favorites]

posted by doctornemo at 2:46 PM on August 31, 2018

goddamnit. the voice was seminal for me from 99-07.

this, alongside the daily news losing half its staff means that corrupt ny pols, govt no-show jobs, real estate barons, land speculators, mafiosi, wall street shmucks, landgrabbing universities, polluting businesses and other destroyers of society and people's lives can sleep a little easier tonight.


for civil society continuing to circle the drain a little quicker
posted by lalochezia at 2:48 PM on August 31, 2018 [23 favorites]

Barbey's WEEU radio station carries Rush Limbaugh, but I'll try to believe he didn't buy the Voice with the intention of shutting it down.
posted by jamjam at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

An obnoxious thing they did with their website was to move the location of movie reviews. I’d want to read a review as linked from sites like IMDB only to be kicked to a generic page (which i’d immediately hit the back button on and then go to links to OTHER newspapers). Readers coming from other sites is something you want to encourage.
posted by D.C. at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm sad. I started reading it before I moved to the city--it did an excellent write-up of the Klingon subfandom, as well as one for Kids in the Hall--and during my short time in NYC, it was indispensable in hunting apartments and finding out what was worth going to see and do in town. (I once made a connection with a library school classmate that I'd lost touch with by reading about something interesting going on in Manhattan and running into him while in line for it.) Sometimes their writers seemed about as mature and skilled as the rantiest college newspaper columnist that you'd ever read, but there was so much good stuff there as well. RIP.

posted by Halloween Jack at 2:52 PM on August 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

posted by Lynsey at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2018

Who needs it? Nobody fucking reads anymore anyway. Fuck this world.
posted by charlesminus at 3:04 PM on August 31, 2018 [5 favorites]

What a loss.

posted by theora55 at 3:10 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by cashman at 3:11 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can anyone still in the city report on if the New York Press is still around?

Nope, that's long gone.

The New York City I fell in love with when I was ten, and moved to when I was eighteen, is something I don't recognize any more.

I'm not leaving, though. I'm doubling down and I'm going to take it back.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2018 [37 favorites]

posted by MexicanYenta at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by Rash at 3:26 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had a dead-tree subscription to the Voice in the mid-90s. After they sacked Robert Christgau and J. Hoberman and moved to a web-only publication, it was a sad shell of itself and its days were numbered.
posted by porn in the woods at 3:28 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

VV writer Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev):
i feel like rich people buy news oulets like people buy exotic pets
like they think it's cool to own a little baby tiger or cobra
and then it grows and gets unwieldy and sometimes has fangs
so they put it down
or they give it away
and never reflect on the damage
And NY Daily News columnist Harry Seigel writes in the Daily Beast about trust-fund would-be media magnate Peter Barbey: The Rube Who Came to New York and Killed the Village Voice Lied To My Face—The guy who bought a $26 million penthouse in the Village and offered me a job that maybe didn’t exist, now says he can’t afford to keep putting articles on a website (Or, why none should ever buy Timberlands after this bullshit.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:39 PM on August 31, 2018 [50 favorites]

posted by limeonaire at 3:40 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by mumimor at 3:44 PM on August 31, 2018

Time Out has put out street boxes in recent months, but its quality declined after it became free.
posted by brujita at 3:45 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by mikelieman at 3:50 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by 23skidoo at 3:51 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by Lyme Drop at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 4:03 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by bcd at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2018

This fucking timeline needs to back the fuck up.
posted by loquacious at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2018 [11 favorites]

posted by ZeusHumms at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by young_simba at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

One of my first journalism jobs was for a local outpost of New Times Inc./Village Voice Media. I was so proud when I nailed that edit test. That particular alt-weekly lives on, beyond the reach of this idiot and its own idiot founder, thankfully. I just...I hate this.

Coming up as a writer and editor during this particular era of journalism has just been kind of unendingly traumatic. But it wasn't really something I feel like I had a choice about—this line of work chose me. Maybe my background predisposed me to accept the abuse. I don't know. I'm thinking about all that time I spent reading Tom Wolfe in high school, or the newspaper summer camp in middle school, or the even earlier newspaper camp when I was a kid, or the newspaper class I tried to get into during a summer program in high school (I got a class about Russia instead, which ultimately was probably better background!). Then there was the week I toured my college-to-be. I picked up a copy of the student newspaper, bled red ink all over it, and decided right then that there would be a place for me after all—and I wrote exactly that on it and gave it to my high-school AP Lit teacher. I ultimately became the editor-in-chief of that college paper.

And when I graduated from college with almost no money whatsoever, and going home wasn't an option, I worked three or four jobs at once: a part-time job in a bookstore, a brief and humiliating stint scooping ice cream, an early freelance gig copy-editing and writing for a magazine (where I'd ultimately become managing editor)... Then after a few months, this weekend gig came along, proofreading and copy-editing the local alt-weekly. I recall sitting in a half-dark art studio after hours with my then-boyfriend, a cartoonist, proofreading the alt-weekly's "best of" issue on massive printouts over chicken fried rice I could barely afford from the nearby bubble-tea joint, while he worked on his illustrations for class.

That was the life! I kept that alt-weekly gig for a few years, even after I got hired full-time by the other publication. It was the perfect once-a-week freelance engagement, nice for a tiny bit of walking-around money, advance knowledge of shows and such happening around town, and an ongoing line on my résumé. I have a lot of nostalgia for those days. Yet it was so hardscrabble, because that's the thing about journalism: It's the kind of line of work where you're expected to work your way up, to take on as much as you can and make yourself indispensable, just for a shot at a real job. And that's what all of these fuckers have taken advantage of, the fact that so many people—increasingly many, after more than 10 years of layoffs—still just want a shot, still want a chance to write and edit and do what they're good at doing, that thing they can't help doing.

posted by limeonaire at 4:31 PM on August 31, 2018 [41 favorites]

(Who needs a drink? Haha. Anyone who's going to ONA in a week and a half, hit me up.)
posted by limeonaire at 4:38 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by lapolla at 5:06 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by dannyboybell at 5:17 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by Samizdata at 5:19 PM on August 31, 2018

posted by languagehat at 5:45 PM on August 31, 2018

I cried at my desk.
posted by ferret branca at 5:56 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hang it!
This is a loss to honest reporting.

Ah man, the Boise Weekly, an independent that had run some good stories, was bought out by the Statesman not to long ago, too.

Group think, here we are.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:00 PM on August 31, 2018

I was saddened to see it go. After checking into its history (esp. since 2005), it clearly stopped serving the community it was created to serve a long time ago. Seems it was running on nostalgia fumes since.

That community, though, still exists. Now that the vacuum is more apparent, I have little doubt that there's more talent to fill it now than there was in 1955.

posted by Twang at 6:09 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, at least we still have Fox News. I feel like I am going to be a very angry old man.
posted by killdevil at 6:16 PM on August 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:52 PM on August 31, 2018


Goddamnit. Essential to my ability to understand, inhabit, survive and enjoy NYC 1985-1989.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:52 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

In 1995 my friend Antoine decided that in order to pay for school and avoid lifelong student loan debt, he would sell one of his kidneys, "because why else did god give us 2," and after careful consideration concluded that the best way to achieve this goal was through an ad in the Village Voice. This was long before the website existed, so classified ad placement was by mail or by phone, or in person. Since the former offices were right by school, he walked in and attempted to place his lifechanging advert.

One would think that working at a publication like the Village Voice would give one a highly jaded outlook on life, with the firm expectation of truly having seen just about everything humanity has to offer, but apparently on that day the staff learned something new. After much discussion back and forth between various departments and opinionated passers-by, it was officially proclaimed that an advertisement, in earnest, to sell a human body part, could not be placed in the "Items For Sale" section of the paper. instead, it went into the "Anything Goes" kink section of the personal ads.

Antoine did not receive any satisfactory replies to his personal ad and as far as I know still has both kidneys.

I will miss the Village Voice more than I can possibly express.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:58 PM on August 31, 2018 [55 favorites]

I encourage you all to follow @edroso and check in with his site alicublog.blogspot.com
posted by dogrose at 7:06 PM on August 31, 2018 [5 favorites]

If only they’d hung on long enough for legal marijuana advertising. Seems to be what keeps The Stranger afloat.

this is sad
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:14 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Peter Barbey is a billionaire, and publishing the Village Voice on the web can't possibly cost more than a few million dollars a year right? If he really loves it so much why can't he just keep publishing it as a money-losing LARP of Citizen Kane-style vanity project for the next 100 years?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2018 [12 favorites]

Shit. Damn. Hell. Fuckity fuck this crap.

80s suburban teenage me pored over the Voice any chance I got.
posted by Gotanda at 9:07 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is terrible. The Village Voice was an amazing institution.

And I can't fucking believe that it was owned by the Reading fucking Eagle, of all things, which somehow is also owned by a billionaire?! Having grown up with that newspaper, what the absolute fuck?
posted by kdar at 11:08 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

What is stopping "Voice of Village" from being set up communally with worker's shares, same editors, mission, etc??
posted by Meatbomb at 4:06 AM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

No money?
posted by notyou at 7:01 AM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

. The ruling class ruins everything.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:18 AM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

posted by Gelatin at 11:13 AM on September 1, 2018

posted by suelac at 11:57 AM on September 1, 2018

posted by Sys Rq at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2018

Started reading the Voice back when R. Crumb was doing a weekly strip for them. It was my vade mecum for everything I needed to know about or do in NYC when I was in my teens and early 20s, back when the city was The City. Though I stopped reading it regularly 20+ years ago, it always remained an NYC mental landmark for me, and I'd pick it up whenever I visited. Very sorry to see it go, both in and of itself and for what it says about the marketplace and available room for independent hardcopy media.

posted by the sobsister at 1:56 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, although it shows how often I looked at my phone this weekend but this turned out to be actually true and not something I dreamt. What sad news.
posted by y2karl at 2:08 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by hydra77 at 8:21 AM on September 4, 2018

« Older It Came From the '70s: The Story of Your Grandma's...   |   Sounds like artisan cocktails Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments