The Village Voice

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This article is about a New York newspaper. For the Ottawa Hills, Ohio magazine, see The Village Voice of Ottawa Hills.
The Village Voice

October 1955 cover
Type Newspaper
Format Tabloid / Alternative weekly

Owner Village Voice Media
Publisher Michael Cohen
Editor-in-Chief Tony Ortega
Founded 1955
Headquarters 36 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003
 United States
Circulation 247,417[1]
ISSN 0042-6180

The Lafayette Street head office of the paper.
Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff; photo by Tom Pich

The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper in New York City, United States featuring investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts reviews and events listings for New York City. It is also distributed throughout the United States on a pay basis.

It was the first and is arguably the best known of the arts-oriented tabloids that have come to be known as alternative weeklies, though its reputation has been unstable since a recent buyout by publishing conglomerate New Times Media. The turbulent times its writers have covered has often been matched by the intrigue in its own offices, most recently including the firing of several high-profile contributors and a scandal over a forged story in 2005, the year the paper turned 50. The Voice's spirit can be captured in its 1980s advertising slogan: "Some people swear by us...other people swear AT us."[citation needed]


[edit] History

The Voice was launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, and Norman Mailer[2] on October 26, 1955, from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, its initial coverage area, expanding to other parts of the city by the 1960s. The offices in the 1960s were located at Sheridan Square; they are now at Cooper Square in the East Village.

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 change its policy. [3]

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),[4] 1986 (Jules Feiffer)[5] and 2000 (Mark Schoofs).[6] Almost since its inception the paper has recognized alternative theater in New York through its Obie Awards.[7] From the early 1970s to 2005 music critic Robert Christgau ran a highly influential music poll known as "Pazz & Jop" every February from the "top ten" lists submitted by music critics from around the country. 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 indie rock festival, a free annual event every summer held at Coney Island.

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, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, 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. 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 and Wayne Barrett.

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 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" (escorts, prostitutes, etc.). This content is located at the back of the newspaper.

The Voice is also locally known 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 Voice's competitors in New York City include the New York Press, New York Observer and Time Out New York. After decades of carrying a cover price, the Voice responded to competition from the free New York Press by itself becoming free of charge on newsstands in the five boroughs -- in 1996. (It still carries a charge for home/mail delivery and for newsstands outside the city limits, such as on Long Island.) Its circulation as of June 2006 was 247,417.[1]

The Voice’s web site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award (2001)[8] and the Editor & Publisher EPpy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service – Weekly, Community, Alternative & Free (2003).[9]

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.[10]

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,[2] New York City Councilman Carter Burden,[2] New York Magazine founder Clay Felker, Rupert Murdoch, and Leonard Stern of the Hartz Mountain empire.

[edit] Changes after 2005 New Times Media buyout

Since the buyout, the paper has made a number of broad-sweeping changes, becoming an increasingly mainstream publication. The Village Voice is now managed by two journalists from Phoenix, Arizona, and some New York media critics perceive a loss of the paper's original iconoclastic, bohemian spirit.[11][12]

In April 2006, the Voice dismissed music editor Chuck Eddy.[13] Four months later the newspaper fired longtime music critic Robert Christgau. In January 2007, the newspaper fired sex columnist and erotica author Rachel Kramer Bussel.

The paper has experienced high turnover among its editorial leadership since 2005. Editor-in-chief Don Forst resigned in December 2005. Doug Simmons, his replacement, was fired in March 2006 after it was discovered 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. As of April 2007, Tony Ortega, former editor of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, is editor.

In December 2008, The New York Times reported that the situation at the Voice grew so strained that half of its entire staff was gone. One still employed writer remarked about the Voice's management that "they don’t seem to be able to sit there and just talk about them with their own work force to deal with these problems".[14]

The firing of Nat Hentoff, who worked for the paper from 1958 to 2008, lead to further criticism of the management by some of its current writers, Hentoff himself, and- somewhat ironically- by the Voice's ideological rival paper National Review (which referred to Hentoff as a "treasure").[15][14]

[edit] Awards and honors

  • 2003 - Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, Local Circulation Weekly Category, series "Lush Life of Rudy Appointee" by Tom Robbins[16]
  • 2003 - American Society of Journalists and Authors Donald Robinson Award for Investigative Journalism, for "Final Solutions: How IBM Helped Automate the Nazi Death Machine in Poland" by Edwin Black[17]
  • 2003 - New York Press Club and New York State Bar Association Crystal Gavel Award, for "Why the NYPD Is Fighting for the Right to Spy on You" by Chisun Lee[18]
  • 2002 - Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Mike Berger Award for "Crossing to the Other Side" by Michael Kamber[19]
  • 2002 - Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Feature Writing, for "Crossing to the Other Side" by Michael Kamber[20]
  • 2002 - Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Photography, for photograph of downtown Manhattan by Andre Souroujon[20]
  • 2002 - Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Photography for Arts Criticism, work by Greg Tate[20]
  • 2002 - Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for Photography for Cartoon, "Tom the Dancing Bug" by Ken Fisher (Ruben Bolling)[20]
  • 2001 - Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Mike Berger Award for "Life on the Outside" by Jennifer Gonnerman[19]
  • 2001 - National Press Foundation Excellence in Online Journalism Award for[21]
  • 2000 - Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for "AIDS: The Agony of Africa" by Mark Schoofs[22]
  • 1986 - Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, Jules Feiffer[23]
  • 1981 - Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, Teresa Carpenter[24]
  • 1960 - George Polk Award for Community Service[25]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b "The Village Voice". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Retrieved on 2007-02-23.
  2. ^ a b c Lawrence van Gelder, Dan Wolf, 80, a Village Voice Founder, Dies, The New York Times, April 12, 1996. Accessed online 2 June 2008.
  3. ^ Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution. Carter, David. pg. 226
  4. ^ The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 1981, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online 5 June 2008.
  5. ^ The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 1986, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online 5 June 2008.
  6. ^ The Pulitzer Prize Winners, 2000, official Pulitzer Prize site. Accessed online 5 June 2008.
  7. ^ About the OBIES, official Obies site (part of Village Voice site). Accessed online 5 June 2008.
  8. ^ Excellence in Online Journalism Award: Past Winners 2000-2006, NPF Awards, National Press Foundation. Accessed online 2 June 2008.
  9. ^ Winners - 2003, EPpy Awards. Accessed online 2 June 2008.
  10. ^ DomesticPartners
  11. ^ Jonathan Mandell, Bigger Media, Less Local Democracy, Gotham Gazette, February 2007. Accessed 8 June 2008.
  12. ^ Adam Reilly, Culture war, The Phoenix (Boston), 2 March 2007. Accessed 8 June 2008.
  13. ^ Ben Sisario, Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bloggy: An Online Poll Covets the Territory Once Owned by Pazz & Jop, The New York Times, November 30, 2006. Accessed 8 June 2008.
  14. ^ a b 'Village Voice Lays Off Nat Hentoff and 2 Others'. The New York Times. Published December 30, 2008.
  15. ^ The Village Voice. By Kathryn Jean Lopez. National Review. Published December 31, 2008.
  16. ^ "Alternative Newsweekly Award Winners Announced". The Write News. Writers Write, Inc (June 20, 2003). Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  17. ^ American Society of Journalists and Authors. " Awards History - Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  18. ^ Carr, Brad. "New York State Bar Association and New York Press Club to Honor News Media Reporting About Law, Legal System - Village Voice and ABC News receive top honors". New York State Bar Association. Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  19. ^ a b Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (2002-05-13). "Village Voice Wins Berger Award". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  20. ^ a b c d Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. "Alternative Newsweekly Award Winners Announced - Two Sept. 11 Pieces Take First Place, Gambit Weekly Wins Four Firsts". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  21. ^ National Press Foundation. "The National Press Foundation - NPF Awards - 2001 Award Winner,". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  22. ^ The Pulitzer Board. "2000 Pulitzer Prize Winners - INTERNATIONAL REPORTING". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  23. ^ Shaw, David (April 18, 1986). "Denver Post Wins Pulitzer Three Other Newspapers Get Two Prizes Apiece", Los Angeles Times, p. 1. 
  24. ^ The Pulitzer Board. "The Pulitzer Prizes for 1981". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  25. ^ Long Island University. "The George Polk Awards for Journalism". Retrieved on 2008-06-01.

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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