Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Village Voice’s Print Edition Bites the Dust

Benjamin Mullin, Poynter:

The Village Voice, a storied progressive alt-weekly that has watchdogged New York’s political and business classes for more than half a century, is ending its print edition, its owner announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement is a symbolic blow for alternative weeklies across the United States, which have endured successive cuts and closures in recent years as print advertising revenue has dried up. The Village Voice, founded in 1955, is regarded as one of the first alt-weeklies and counts among its alumni crusading journalists and literary authors such as Wayne Barrett and Norman Mailer.

The New York Times carried today an editorial from ex-employee Tom Robbins:

It was a paper so famously cantankerous that Norman Mailer, a co-founder, quit writing for it out of rage over a copy-editing error; a paper where writers like Jack Newfield and Alexander Cockburn took up chunks of the letters page with pointed barbs against each other’s politics; where the poet and columnist joel oppenheimer wrote only in lower case; where the often feverish sentences of the dance critic Jill Johnston became an adventure in themselves; where the critic Ellen Willis properly called out the largely white male staff on their feminist failures.

It was a paper whose tabloid layout lent itself to Jules Feiffer’s wistful Village characters, and the often bizarre antics of the street people depicted by his fellow cartoonists Stan Mack and Mark Alan Stamaty. Its pages carried a constant stream of photographs by The Voice’s Fred McDarrah, who managed to capture everyone from the Village political boss Carmine DeSapio to Andy Warhol hard at work in the Factory.

There’s something about the shutting down of a print edition that makes any news publication feel somewhat lesser. Only so many newspapers and magazines can afford to layout and publish physical copies; on the web, the Voice is, on some level, just another website. Maybe it’s just nostalgia or some other illogical vibe, but that’s heartbreaking.

The good news is that the Voice still publishes quality work, like Fahmida Rashid’s piece on the vagarities of an education in cybersecurity.