Friday, August 25, 2017

1836 Laryngitis at the Village Voice

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After we all got over our snit, we started to like the Village Voice.  The snit was about unfair competition with the real Greenwich Village newspaper, “The Villager,” which was kind of like the Moote Pointe Mercury-Herald, only for a real piece of geography.

In fact, we started to like it so much that we would line up late on Tuesday evenings (was it Tuesdays?) We’d be the first to get to the apartment rental, help wanted and girlfriend ads.  We’d get to see what was on Nat Hentoff’s mind.  We’d see the latest cartoon from Jules “big black floating specs are good for you” Feiffer.

And it was a big paper.  Many pages.  Many fish to wrap, excess to recycle before recycling was both cool and mandatory.  

In series of ownership changes over the years, the Voice figured it was charging its readers too much.  So it took the coin boxes out of those red boxes on every corner of Manhattan and came up with the Very Best Possible Slogan for a giveaway:  they became “The Newspaper that Can’t be Bought.”  Bravo!

Hentoff’s long gone. Newfield. Cockburn.  All dead or fired or both.  Saving money.  If that weren’t bad enough…  here comes the really bad news:

The Voice will stop printing.  It’s becoming online only.

A lot of alternative newspapers (not to be confused with alternative facts,) have stopped printing and gone away or started scantily content-ed websites that no one reads.

The Voice was not the first paper of its kind.  But it was the biggest and the best known. It had more star reporters per column inch than any other of its breed.  It was the church bulletin of the Beat Generation.  It was the critic the Times and Trib didn’t have the nerve to print.

It was the investigator municipal investigators feared. Even when you had to buy it, it couldn’t be bought.

So they save a few bucks by not printing at all rather than cutting back to a few pages or printing every other week.

The website has no paywall. So from here on in, the Voice will rely on advertisers to keep afloat.

What’s funny is how the rival publications are reacting. The New York Daily news gushed sadness. So did New York Magazine, one of two lasting memorials to the Herald-Trib (it started as the paper’s Sunday mag. The other memorial:  the Fresh Air Fund.)

The New York Times reminds us that the date the presses die has not yet been established.  New owner Peter Barbey vows to “make the Voice relevant again.” Shows you what a Pennsylvania investment guy thinks.  It IS relevant, Pete.

People who buy the paper that can’t be bought should create a title for themselves: New Owner. Because there seems to be one of those every few years.  

This is where you find out whose hands are picking whose pockets… who is paying who for that city contract… who really owns all those new buildings that are popping up all over town.

This is where you find out when your favorite obscure modern dance troupe will be trooping in from Barbados or Cosamil or Riga.  When the next Andy Warhol is about to arrive.  What Bernie Madoff’s life behind bars is like.  Why the streets of Elmhurst and Harlem get plowed only occasionally, and sometimes when there’s been no snowfall.  

Maybe they still can do that as a website. Maybe they’ll list the no show jobs at the courthouse or city hall.  Maybe.

If you want it to, click on some ads.  Many ads. And not just for a week or two. Give them another 62 years.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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