''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. While it ceased publication in 2017, its online archives are still accessible and new original stories are being published on the website. 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 film critics Andrew Sarris, Jonas Mekas and J. Hoberman. In October 2015, ''The Village Voice'' changed ownership and severed all ties with former parent company Voice Media Group (VMG). 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.John Leland and Sarah Maslin Nir
"After 62 Years and Many Battles, Village Voice Will End Print Publication,"
''The New York Times'', August 22, 2017.
The final printed edition, featuring a 1965 photo of Bob Dylan on the cover, was distributed on September 21, 2017. 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. The ''Voice'' continues to have an active website, which features archival material related to current events. In January 2021, new original stories began being published again on the website.


Early history

The ''Village Voice'' was launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, and Norman MailerLawrence van Gelder
Dan Wolf, 80, a Village Voice Founder, Dies
, ''The New York Times'', April 12, 1996. Accessed online June 2, 2008.
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; 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. 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. 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 continued to be a valuable resource for reporters covering the Trump presidency. 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 and cartoonists for the ''Voice'' have received three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1981 (Teresa Carpenter, for feature writing), 1986 (Jules Feiffer, for editorial cartooning) and 2000 (Mark Schoofs, for international reporting). The paper has, almost since its inception, 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, 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. During the 1980s and onward, 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". 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 and the ''Editor & Publisher'' EPpy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service – Weekly, Community, Alternative & Free in 2003. 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.

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. 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 Yaeger 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".Village Voice Lays Off Nat Hentoff and 2 Others
". ''The New York Times'', December 30, 2008.
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.

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. 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 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. Feingold was rehired as a writer for ''The Village Voice'' in January 2016. In July 2013, Voice Media Group executives named Tom Finkel as editor.

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. Barbey is a member of one of America's wealthiest families. 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, and Suzan Gursoy, formerly of ''Ad Week'', as publisher. In December 2016, Barbey named Stephen Mooallem, formerly of ''Harper's Bazaar'', as editor in chief. Mooallem resigned in May 2018, and was not replaced before the publication's shutdown. Under the Barbey ownership, advertisements for escort agencies and phone sex services came to an end. 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. While an August 31 piece by freelancer Steven Wishnia was hailed as the last article to be published on the website, in January 2021, a new original story was published, the first in over two years. 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 2021.


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. ''The Village Voice'' released an article entitled "What Nick Kristof Got Wrong" accusing Kristof of fabricating the story and ignoring journalistic standards. 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. After repeated calls for a boycott of ''The Village Voice'', the company was sold to Voice Media Group.

See also

* Gear * Media of New York City * List of underground newspapers of the 1960s counterculture


Further reading

* Carson, Tom
"The ''Voice'' and Its Village."
''The Baffler'', September 7, 2018. * Chonin, Neva
"New Times."
''San Francisco Chronicle'', October 30, 2005, p. PK-16. *Frankfort, Ellen. ''The Voice: Life at the Village Voice''. New York: William Morrow, 1976. * Goodman, Amy, et al
"Village Voice Shakeup: Top Investigative Journalist Fired, Prize-Winning Writers Resign Following Merger with New Times Media."
''Democracy Now!'', April 13, 2006. * * 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."
''The Village Voice'', October 24, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2006. * O'Neil, Luke
"Generations of ''Village Voice'' Writers Reflect on the Paper Leaving the Honor Boxes."
''Esquire'', April 23, 2017. Archived fro
the original.
An oral history. * Powers, Devon. ''Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism.'' Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013. * PR Newswire
"TAKE THREE: The Third Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll."
''The Village Voice'', January 2, 2002. * Sherman, Gabriel
''Can Village Voice Make It Without Its Lefty Zetz?''
''The New York Observer'', April 24, 2006, p. 1. Retrieved April 20, 2006. *Stokes, Geoffrey (ed). ''The Village Voice Anthology (1956-1980): Twenty-five Years of Writing from the Village Voice''. New York: William Morrow, 1982. * 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

''The New York Times'', November 30, 2006.

External links

''The Village Voice''
Official site.
''The Village Voice'' (digital archive)
at Google News
''Who Speaks for the Negro'' Vanderbilt University documentary website
{{DEFAULTSORT:Village Voice Category:Alternative weekly newspapers published in the United States Category:Publications established in 1955 Category:Greenwich Village Category:1955 establishments in New York (state) Category:2018 disestablishments in New York (state) Category:Publications disestablished in 2018 Category:Defunct newspapers published in New York City Category:Online newspapers with defunct print editions