The Village Voice is a free weekly 17" by 11" format newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City. It is also distributed throughout the United States on a pay basis.
It was the first of the urban tabloid-format newspapers that came to be known as alternative weeklies, and as such, is the oldest and largest newspaper of its kind in the United States.
The Voice was launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer on October 26, 1955 from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, which was its initial coverage area, expanding to other parts of the city by the 1960s. The offices in the 1960s were located at Sheridan Square; then to 11th Street and University Place from the 70's through 1980; then to Broadway and 13th Street; and then they moved to Cooper Square in the East Village in 1991. In 2013, they moved to the Financial District.
The Voice has published groundbreaking investigations of New York City politics, as well as reporting on local and national politics, with arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews. The Voice has received three Pulitzer Prizes, in 1981 (Teresa Carpenter), 1986 (Jules Feiffer) and 2000 (Mark Schoofs). Almost since its inception the paper has recognized alternative theater in New York through its Obie Awards. The paper's "Pazz & Jop" music poll, started by Robert Christgau in the early 1970s, continues to this day and remains a highly 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's movies. In 2001 the paper sponsored its first Siren Festival music festival, a free annual event every summer held at Coney Island. That event has since been moved to the lower tip of Manhattan and re-christened the "4Knots Music Festival," a reference to the speed of the East River's current.
The Voice has published many well-known writers, including Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, M.S.Cone, staff writer and author, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, Nat Hentoff, Ted Hoagland, staff writer and author, William Bastone of thesmokinggun.com, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, Lester Bangs, Thomas E. Byers, Catholic activist and author, Allen Ginsberg and Joshua Clover. Former editors have included Clay Felker and Tom Morgan.
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, Tom Carson, Wayne Barrett, and Richard Goldstein.
The newspaper has also been a host to promising 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 currently M. Wartella.
The Voice is also known for containing adult content, including sex-advice columns and many pages of advertising for "adult services". This content is located at the back of the newspaper. It is known locally for being the place where most hard rock or jazz concerts are announced, sometimes with full page paid ads. Most groups visiting New York advertise in the Voice for publicity. Most venues in NYC advertise their concerts in The Village Voice.
The Voices competitors in New York City include New York Observer and Time Out New York. In 1996, after decades of carrying a cover price, the Voice became one of the last alternative weeklies in America to become free of charge. (The paper is free in the five boroughs only; it still carries a charge for home/mail delivery and for newsstands outside the city limits, such as on Long Island.)
The Voice’s web site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award (2001) and the Editor & Publisher EPpy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service – Weekly, Community, Alternative & Free (2003).
While the Voice is today known for its staunch support for the civil rights of gays -- it publishes an annual Gay Pride issue every June -- it wasn't always so. Early in its history, the newspaper had a reputation as having an anti-homosexual slant. When reporting on the Stonewall riots of 1969, the newspaper referred to the riots as "The Great Faggot Rebellion". Two reporters, Smith and Truscott, 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.) After the riot, the Gay Liberation Front attempted to promote dances for gays and lesbians and were not allowed to use the words gay or homosexual, which the newspaper considered derogatory. The newspaper changed their policy after the GLF petitioned the Voice to do so.
The Voice was the second organization in the US known to have extended domestic partner benefits, in July 1982. 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.
Seventeen alternative weeklies around the United States are owned by the Voice's parent company Village Voice Media. 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 and Wolf, New York City Councilman Carter Burden, New York Magazine founder Clay Felker, Rupert Murdoch, and Leonard Stern of the Hartz Mountain empire.
The paper is referenced in the musical Rent during the song La Vie Boheme. The line goes: "To riding your bike midday past the three piece suits, to fruits, to no absolutes; to Absolut; to choice; to The Village Voice, to any passing fad."
Changes after acquisition by New Times Media
Since being acquired by New Times Media in 2005, the publication's key personnel have changed and the content has become increasingly mainstream. The Voice is now managed by two journalists from Phoenix, Arizona. Some New York media critics perceive a loss of the paper's original iconoclastic, bohemian spirit.
In December 2008, The New York Times reported that the situation grew so strained that half of its entire staff was gone. One still-employed writer remarked that the Voice's managers "don’t seem to be able to sit there and just talk about them with their own work force to deal with these problems".
The firing 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").
Current ownership under Voice Media Group
In September 2012, Village Voice Media executives Scott Tobias, Christine Brennan and Jeff Mars bought Village Voice Media's papers and associated web properties from its founders and formed Voice Media Group.
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. Both had been recent hires. The Voice has gone through 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 Voice for decades.
In July 2013, Voice Media Group executives named Tom Finkel editor.
In addition to the weekly print edition circulated around New York City, the paper operates three blogs: Runnin' Scared (news), Sound of the City (music) and Fork in the Road (restaurants and bar news). The paper operates several social media accounts, including @VillageVoice on Twitter and it also manages a Facebook presence. The film section writers and editors also produce a weekly Voice Film Club podcast.
- Association of Alternative Newsmedia directory; The Village Voice. Altweeklies.com.
- Lawrence van Gelder, Dan Wolf, 80, a Village Voice Founder, Dies, The New York Times, April 12, 1996. Accessed online June 2, 2008.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Village Voice Has Left The Village, Bedford + Bowery. Accessed online September 16, 2013.
- The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 1981, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online June 5, 2008.
- The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 1986, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online June 5, 2008.
- The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 2000, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online June 5, 2008.
- About the OBIES, official Obies site (part of The Village Voice site). Accessed online June 5, 2008.
- Johnston, Maura (2011-04-14). Maura Johnston, "Announcing The 4Knots Music Festival, Taking Place This July 16", The Village Voice Blogs, April 14, 2011. Blogs.villagevoice.com. Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
- Adelson, Andrea. "MEDIA: WEEKLIES; With free distribution, The Village Voice echoes its owner's strategy in California.", The New York Times, April 22, 1996.
- Excellence in Online Journalism Award: Past Winners 2000–2006, NPF Awards, National Press Foundation. Accessed online June 2, 2008.
- Winners – 2003, EPpy Awards. Accessed online June 2, 2008.
- "The Great Faggot Rebellion".
- Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution. Carter, David. p. 226.
- Domestic Partners - Arthur Lazere. Retrieved from Internet Archive 26 December 2013.
- Jonathan Mandell, "Bigger Media, Less Local Democracy", Gotham Gazette, February 2007. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- Adam Reilly, "Culture War", The Phoenix (Boston), March 2, 2007. Accessed June 8, 2008.
- "Village Voice Lays Off Nat Hentoff and 2 Others". The New York Times, December 30, 2008.
- Kathryn Jean Lopez, "The Village Voice". National Review, December 31, 2008.
- Village Voice Media Execs Acquire The Company’s Famed Alt Weeklies, Form New Holding Company. Tech Crunch.
- Carr, David. "Top Editors Abruptly Leave Village Voice Over Staff Cuts", 05/10/13. Retrieved on May 11, 2013.
- Hallock, Betty. "Village Voice 'bloodbath' sends restaurant critic Robert Sietsema packing", May 17, 2013.
- Kassel, Matthew. "Longtime writers out at The Village Voice", May 17, 2013.
- Simonson, Robert. "Michael Feingold, longtime critic, let go from Village Voice", May 20, 2013.
- Tom Finkel Named as Editor of the Village Voice. Blogs.villagevoice.com (2013-07-08). Retrieved on 2013-11-24.
- Chonin, Neva. "New Times", October 30, 2005, p. PK-16.
- Frankfort, Ellen. The Voice: Life at the Village Voice. New York: William Morrow, 1976.
- Goodman, Amy. "Village Voice Shakeup: Top Investigative Journalist Fired, Prize-Winning Writers Resign Following Merger with New Times Media", April 13, 2006. Listen in RealPlayer. Download in MP3. Watch in 128K RealPlayer Video stream. Read Democracy Now! transcript. Host Amy Goodman interviews current and former staff James Ridgeway, Nat Hentoff, Tom Robbins, Sydney Schanberg and two reporters Mark Jacobson and Tim Redmond.
- Jacobson, Mark. "The Voice from Beyond the Grave: The legendary downtown paper has been a shell of its former self since it went free nearly a decade ago. But a potty-mouthed new owner—from Phoenix, no less—vows to make it relevant again", New York Magazine, November 14, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Murphy, Jarrett. "Village Voice Media, New Times Announce Merger: Deal to combine two largest alt-weekly chains would require Justice Department approval". Village Voice, October 24, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Powers, Devon. Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013.
- Sherman, Gabriel. Can Village Voice Make It Without Its Lefty Zetz?, The New York Observer, April 24, 2006, p. 1. Retrieved April 20, 2006.
- VanAirsdale, S. T. "The Voice in the Wilderness: A look inside the Village Voice's troubled film section reveals acrimony, disappointment – and maybe even a future", The Reeler, November 15, 2006. Retrieved November 16, 2006.
- Sisario, Ben. "Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bloggy: An Online Poll Covets the Territory Once Owned by Pazz & Jop", The New York Times, November 30, 2006.
- The Village Voice Official site.
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