Village Voice Media being acquired by New Times very soon

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http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/24/business/24voice.html

The Village Voice, Pushing 50, Prepares to Be Sold to a Chain of Weeklies
By RICHARD SIKLOS
Published: October 24, 2005

The company that publishes The Village Voice and five other alternative newspapers is to announce today an agreement to be acquired by New Times Media, the largest publisher in the market. The deal would create a chain of 17 free weekly newspapers around the country with a combined circulation of 1.8 million.

Establishing the Anti-Establishment The merger - coming in the same week as The Voice's 50th anniversary - will undoubtedly raise questions about whether The Voice and its siblings can preserve their anti-establishment roots as part of a growing corporation.

But in an increasingly rocky media landscape, an equally important question is whether conglomeration will give the chain - which would include LA Weekly, SF Weekly, Miami New Times and The Dallas Observer - the editorial and financial muscle to compete against free competitors, both online and in print.

James Larkin, the chairman and chief executive of New Times, said in an interview that the merger, unlike those in the broader newspaper industry, where consolidation has led to accusations of uniformity and boilerplate coverage, "allows us to get stronger and to have stronger content."

The most pressing issue raised by the deal is how it will play with antitrust regulators, with whom the merger partners have already had one run-in.

In 2002, the Justice Department charged New Times Media and Village Voice Media with illegal collusion and blocked a deal between them to shut down money-losing publications in Los Angeles and Cleveland.

As a result, those papers were sold to other publishers, and the companies signed a consent decree in 2003 that, while they admitted no wrongdoing, ensures that their planned combination will get plenty of regulatory scrutiny.

As part of that settlement, the companies agreed that any further deals over the next five years would have to be submitted to the government for approval. In any case, because of its size, the transaction would require approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976.

In addition, after an article speculating about the deal was published several months ago in a rival San Francisco weekly, the California attorney general's office put New Times on notice that it expected to be notified of any deal. Mr. Larkin described the consent decree as an albatross that stemmed from bad legal advice.

Although no money is changing hands, people involved to the merger said it valued the combined companies at about $400 million. The merged company, which will continue to use the name Village Voice Media, is effectively an acquisition by New Times, whose current shareholders will own 62 percent of the new company and hold five of nine board seats.

It will have revenue of roughly $180 million. Both companies are private and therefore do not publish their financial results, but Mr. Larkin said that the combined entity would be profitable and that, despite industry pressures, New Times had been increasing revenue and profit by single digits each year.

In 2000, the Voice chain was acquired by an investor group that includes David Schneiderman, a former editor, and various arms of the investment firms Goldman Sachs; Weiss, Peck & Greer; and Trimaran Capital Partners. None of the current investors are exiting as part of the merger, although Mr. Larkin said the expectation was that he and his partners would buy out the financial backers in five years.

Mr. Larkin is to be chairman and chief executive, and Michael Lacey, New Times's executive editor, is to continue in that role at Village Voice Media.

A trust controlled by Mr. Larkin and Mr. Lacey, who have been publishing partners since 1971, will hold 53 percent of the combined company's shares; they would be the largest individual shareholders within that trust. They have been backed in their efforts to assemble a chain of weeklies by Alta Communications, a private equity firm in Boston that currently holds 14 percent of New Times Media.

Mr. Schneiderman, who is currently Village Voice Media's chief executive, is to take a new position as head of the group's online efforts. Donald H. Forst, the editor of the Village Voice newspaper, will continue in his role once the deal closes. But Mr. Forst and all the Voice Media editors will now report to Mr. Lacey, rather than their individual publishers.

Mr. Lacey said the Voice papers are a good fit with New Times's crusading culture and emphasis on in-depth magazine-style coverage of local news, although observers noted that New Times had been deliberately apolitical and The Voice had been unstintingly left-leaning.

Establishing the Anti-Establishment "I don't think it will have a negative impact on the content of the papers," said Jane Levine, a former publisher of The Chicago Reader who is now on the paper's board. "There may well be changes to the content of the papers being bought, and there will be people who think that they will be negative, in part because New Times doesn't endorse political candidates. If you think the loss of the endorsements is a big negative change, you won't be happy with this deal."

Another criticism of New Times has been the development of a consistent design that Mr. Lacey described as a template aimed at appealing to travelers, but he said The Village Voice would retain its logo and format.

The Village Voice newspaper, with its weekly circulation of 250,000, will be the flagship of the company as well as the national brand for a new alternative media Internet portal that the merged company is planning.

Generally, the alternative weekly format of melding provocative writing, serious arts coverage and extensive listings and classifieds has become unbundled by the Web. And readers of New Times and Voice papers, like those of all news media businesses, are spending more time online.

The online move that is meant to reposition The Village Voice as a national brand also represents the company's most immediate commercial challenge: the Voice's once-lucrative classified advertising business, unique in its size among all the papers in the new company, has been hampered by the success of the free ad site Craigslist.

Mr. Schneiderman said that the company was having a "fantastic year" relative to the daily newspaper industry, and that advertising categories other than classified ads were performing well at The Voice. "It's painful," he said. "We've lost millions of dollars of revenue to free online classifieds."

Part of the strategy to address that shortfall will involve integrating Village Voice Media papers with backpage .com, which is New Times's attempt to compete with Craigslist for free advertising.

Additionally, the papers are to become part of a broader effort to tap into national advertising through a New Times business called Ruxton Media Group, which sells marketing packages in print and online meant to appeal to the typically young tech-savvy readers of alternative weeklies.

Together, the merged companies' publications would represent roughly 25 percent of the 7.6 million in weekly circulation that the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies counts among its 126 North American members. But that total does not include the many rivals looking for the attention of those readers or a slice of the alternative weekly advertising pie.

Among them are the so-called faux alt weeklies produced by daily newspaper publishers; new giveaway dailies like amNew York; and online journalism sites like Slate and Salon.

The companies' filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act is subject to a 30-day government review period. The government could request additional information that might delay the deal's completion.

Mr. Lacey lamented that during that period he and Mr. Larkin would have to refrain from sharing specific plans with employees at Village Voice Media, a silence that he said would only enhance the perception they are the industry's bogeymen.

While acknowledging that the pending union will raise anxiety, both Mr. Larkin and Mr. Lacey said they hoped to be received as dedicated long-term proprietors after a string of unconventional owners of The Voice during the last two decades, including the media baron Rupert Murdoch, the real estate and pet-food mogul Leonard N. Stern and the current consortium of financial firms.

"I'm doing it because I love good journalism," Mr. Larkin said. "I want to have newspapers in the most exciting markets in the country. This is not a financial play."

...

Hmm.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Monday, 24 October 2005 04:11 (fourteen years ago) link

this is exciting, maybe someone will fire chuck eddy finally, king of bad taste and snap judgements!! :) yay!!!

breezy, Monday, 24 October 2005 04:13 (fourteen years ago) link

i mean ,"hold steady" on the cover??? HAHAAHAHAHAHAH

breezy, Monday, 24 October 2005 04:13 (fourteen years ago) link

I get the impression that it's already been questionable for quite a while whether the Voice was "hanging onto its anti-establishment roots".

Hurting (Hurting), Monday, 24 October 2005 04:15 (fourteen years ago) link

Can we just skip ahead 15 years to where we all work for Google?

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 24 October 2005 04:16 (fourteen years ago) link

Can we just skip ahead 15 years to where we all work for Google?

Why so optimistic?

Dave Segal (Da ve Segal), Monday, 24 October 2005 04:34 (fourteen years ago) link

I have a feeling Clear Times (the eventual Clear Channel/New Times merger) will be ruling for a while before Google decides it's worth investing in entertainment journalism or not.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Monday, 24 October 2005 04:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Clear Times Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of Scientology).

walter kranz (walterkranz), Monday, 24 October 2005 05:09 (fourteen years ago) link

the idea that a music editor can automatically dictate cover stories for their newspapers is as much of a snap judgment as anything Chuck ever wrote

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Monday, 24 October 2005 05:27 (fourteen years ago) link

Matos, my 13,000-word 11th-anniversary-of-the-death-of-Sonny-Sharrock piece! Where?!

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Monday, 24 October 2005 06:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah calling for the firing of anyone is dud enough (unless they're Rumsfeld or someone), but when they're a major contributor around these here parts and seem pretty decent to boot - for shame, Breezy.

thousands of tiny luminous spheres (plebian), Monday, 24 October 2005 07:11 (fourteen years ago) link

i hate capitalism.

Theorry Henry (Enrique), Monday, 24 October 2005 07:41 (fourteen years ago) link

well shit. this would explain why i can't sleep.

awful bliss (awful bliss), Monday, 24 October 2005 08:08 (fourteen years ago) link

"....with a combined circulation of 1.8 million."

That's IT?

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 24 October 2005 11:02 (fourteen years ago) link

And I can’t imagine a non-leftwing VV, seems like an oxymoron

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 24 October 2005 11:49 (fourteen years ago) link


washingtonpost.com
The Village Voice's No-Alternative News: Corporate Takeover

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 24, 2005; C01

The nation's two largest alternative newspaper chains plan to announce a merger today, a long-rumored combination that champions of quirky, iconoclastic, locally controlled papers have been sniping at for months.

New Times, the Phoenix-based publisher with 11 newspapers from Miami to San Francisco, is acquiring the Village Voice, the storied New York weekly co-founded by Norman Mailer, and five other papers owned by the Voice.

New Times will export its brand of "desert libertarianism on the rocks, with sprigs of neocon politics," writes Bruce Brugmann, publisher of the rival San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Hogwash, says Michael Lacey, New Times's executive editor, insisting that "individual editors in individual cities determine the content of their papers week to week. . . . I wish there were more conservative writers at the papers. There aren't. There isn't anything imposed about the editorial viewpoint from Phoenix."

Reaction is likely to be chilly among many staffers at the notoriously fractious Voice, where columnist Cynthia Cotts described a 2000 acquisition attempt by New Times as a "hostile takeover" by a company whose media purchases produced a "signature bloodbath."

But David Schneiderman, chief executive of Village Voice Media, says the merger will give his papers a "national platform," particularly on the Web, an operation that he will oversee. While his staff will go through "a period of trepidation," Schneiderman says, "the resources of the combined company will strengthen us editorially." New Times executives, he says, "invest in editorial. This is what they're about. It's quite refreshing."

As for the notion that the fabled counterculture papers of yore are becoming more corporate, Schneiderman says: "The issue is, what's in the newspaper? I would challenge anyone who's critical of this to point to anything in our papers or the New Times papers that's establishment. It's flat-out not true."

Lacey says the merger of assets requires no cash. The 2000 deal had a purchase price of about $150 million, according to a source cited by the New York Times.

The planned acquisition will require Justice Department approval on antitrust grounds, since the combined company would control about 14 percent of the circulation of the major alternative weeklies nationwide. The department has clashed with both companies before. In 2002, New Times agreed to close its Los Angeles paper, which competed with Village Voice Media's L.A. Weekly, in exchange for the Voice shutting down its Cleveland paper, which did battle with New Times's Cleveland Scene.

Justice accused the companies of trying "to corrupt the competitive process by swapping markets, thereby guaranteeing each other a monopoly." The firms agreed in a consent decree to notify the department before any merger or shutdown. "We got bad legal advice," Lacey says.

That was not the only allegation of corporate excess; Brugmann's Bay Guardian has sued New Times on charges of predatory practices.

Alternative papers provide an outlet for colorful writing and muckraking local reporting -- as when Portland's Willamette Week revealed last year that former Oregon governor Neil Goldschmidt had sex with a 14-year-old girl three decades ago and paid $250,000 to hush it up. The 50-year-old Village Voice, which has had such prominent contributors as Jules Feiffer, Jack Newfield and Nat Hentoff, has won three Pulitzers, most recently in 2000 for coverage of AIDS in Africa.

Despite their liberal, anti-establishment pedigree, alternative weeklies such as New Times and Village Voice long ago became big business. They are free and stuffed with music and arts coverage, they rake in piles of cash from entertainment ads and personal classifieds. Village Voice Media is owned by a consortium of investment banks that beat out New Times five years ago.

"Perfectly good journalism is commercially viable," Lacey says. "You have to give them well-written, well-reported stories. We don't need focus groups. We knew damn well that good stories sell, not people doing raving opinion pieces about how outraged they are. Blogs have made it completely unnecessary to have alternative newspapers fulfilling that role."

No cash will change hands because the deal is structured as a merger, with New Times getting 62 percent of the equity (plus a 5-4 edge on the company's board) and Village Voice 38 percent. Jim Larkin, the chief executive of New Times, says the negotiations took 15 months and that the only job cuts he envisions are on the corporate staff. "Village Voice makes money," he says. "These are both plump companies."

Lacey founded Phoenix New Times with Larkin in 1970, when he was a college dropout who had to give blood to make ends meet. He says the chain -- which also owns papers in Houston, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis and Kansas City -- boosts the budgets of the weeklies it acquires, though he would not rule out job cuts at the Voice papers in an effort to boost profit margins.

New Times has won a slew of journalism awards. Mark Jurkowitz, media critic for the Boston Phoenix, wrote recently that the company is "known for being non-ideological." But Lacey concedes that the planned takeover will produce a "culture clash" at the Voice, "because people will resent someone coming in from the outside. It's always very disturbing." What's more, New Times is a non-union shop, while the Voice and L.A. Weekly have noisy unions.

In terms of sheer feistiness, the papers may not be that far apart. A Voice writer recently slammed President Bush's "cluster of neocons and religious nuts and military industrialists," adding: "We need to investigate Wampumgate, Kazakhgate, the oil-for-slush scandal, Plamegate, and all the rest -- we need to do it for the sake of our own democracy."

Phoenix New Times, meanwhile, was calling the Maricopa County sheriff "a modern-day J. Edgar Hoover . . . without the penchant for women's underwear" and accusing local media outlets of the journalistic equivalent of sexually servicing him.

To skeptics, a large company that serves both the 1.1 million readers of New Times and the 800,000 of Village Voice Media -- which also has papers in Seattle, Minneapolis, Orange County and Nashville -- is a giant step toward the corporatization of the alternative news world. But Lacey argues that "media concentration at our end of the business is a good thing because it allows us to compete effectively," and says he hopes to restore the Voice "to its glory days."

That may or may not happen. But the bastion of Greenwich Village liberalism was once owned by Rupert Murdoch for six years. "The joke was we were Poland and Murdoch was Russia," says Schneiderman, a 27-year Voice veteran. "The only question was when he would invade."

curmudgeon, Monday, 24 October 2005 13:52 (fourteen years ago) link

I just posted my reaction:

http://blogs.citypages.com/pscholtes/2005/10/new_times_takes.asp

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 24 October 2005 14:04 (fourteen years ago) link

here's the official memo, from the website:

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0543,memo,69258,2.html

geeta (geeta), Monday, 24 October 2005 15:25 (fourteen years ago) link

More info in an old thread:

Village Voice writers' pay cut while music editor is on vacation

Eppy (Eppy), Monday, 24 October 2005 16:45 (fourteen years ago) link

What VV Media did with New Times LA and their Cleveland paper was pretty shitty, a Baltimore Colts-style dead of night shutdown, so it's not as if this is surprising. I doubt the papers will change, anyway.

gear (gear), Monday, 24 October 2005 16:50 (fourteen years ago) link

And here's the Voice's own tepid, cowardly, and stupid news story on the deal.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:10 (fourteen years ago) link

yikes, is that article the official launch of the voice's new online brand? 'cause i'm reasonably sure that's the worst lede that's ever been published anywhere.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:54 (fourteen years ago) link

this is interesting:

http://www.reclaimthemedia.org/stories.php?story=05/10/24/3056201

geeta (geeta), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Well, having worked for NT at one point, I can say they aren't "right wing" or "neocon." Bruce Brugman is full of shit. But I can also say they're quite maverick in how they hold public officials accountable and how they work to provoke younger readers into picking up their papers. Makes 'em hard to damn-near impossible to work for sometimes (see: literature on growing up in alcoholic household; you'll get the idea), but doesn't necessarily make 'em the bad guys of journalism, either.

That said: ding dong, the Voice (as we know it) is dead. Or, "How the Central Scrutinizer toppled the Empire from an office in Denver."

Chris O., Monday, 24 October 2005 23:32 (fourteen years ago) link

The Chang piece, while definitely hyperbolizing at certain points ("Kenny Loggins"?), pretty much cuts to the chase.

And yeah, hearsay about NT varies from "alright" to "nightmare", as Chris O. cogently pointed out... It will really depend on where on that scale an alt-weekly falls currently, as far as readership/competition/etc.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:46 (fourteen years ago) link

haha please tell me the "Loggins" line was a eddy/queen/smith dis or something.

miccio (miccio), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:53 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't think so, micc.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 00:20 (fourteen years ago) link

The Dallas paper is owned by New Times, it definitely lacks a neo-con/right-wing bent, but it also spends a significant amount of time blaming the 'black establishment' in Dallas from simultaneously not being radical enough and being too hard-ass about things. Basically if you're a young-to-middle-aged white person (preferably urban, preferably with money) they give a damn, but if you aren't then fuck off.

Are You Nomar? (miloaukerman), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 00:30 (fourteen years ago) link

The Dallas paper's expose on ISKCON Texas was pretty amazing

Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 00:52 (fourteen years ago) link

So... No new freelance work for the Voice, then? Just when I was all set to move to NY for the big time of alternative journalism.
Just hope the Voice stays better than the Boston Phoenix. That's a lumpy turd...

js (honestengine), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 00:58 (fourteen years ago) link

They do have some good investigative pieces when they stay further away from Dallas city politics. Maybe Dallas is just so hopelessly corrupt they can't find a new angle for a piece (this is a distinct possibility).

Are You Nomar? (miloaukerman), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 01:53 (fourteen years ago) link

i like jeff chang a great deal, and i empathize with some of what he says here. look: there are very real, visceral reasons to be nervous/pissed off about this. but laying every ill of modern journalism -- shorter stories, reviews-as-advertisements, lousy freelance rates -- at new times' feet is disingenuous. furthermore, kenny loggins' name has appeared in a new times paper recently, but so has jeff chang's.

again, i don't expect to be terribly popular or persuasive -- here or anywhere, really -- for awhile. i merely wish to hack away at the New Times Seal-Clubbing Neocon Automaton rap we're inevitably gonna get. o'connor's right: it's a case-by-case, paper-by-paper situation, and some are better than others. (he's not the first guy to use the Drunk Dad metaphor, actually.) but that alone blows holes in the theory that we're gonna sire 17 papers with identical copy and only change the street names and sports teams. certain details (layout/movie reviews) aside, our papers now are each distinct, regional entities, and trust me -- i join you all in hoping to christ the VV papers stay exactly as they are in that regard. i want matos/sylvester/eddy exactly where they are, only more so.


awful bliss (awful bliss), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 02:07 (fourteen years ago) link

but that alone blows holes in the theory that we're gonna sire 17 papers with identical copy and only change the street names and sports teams.

that'd be an improvement since the voice killed their sports coverage ages ago.

hstencil (hstencil), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 03:38 (fourteen years ago) link


and that's a damn shame. it's high time nat hentoff weighed in on eli manning.

awful bliss (awful bliss), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 03:46 (fourteen years ago) link

Hey, the kids want to read about the cool acts - Young Jeezy, System of a Down, Kenny Loggins - and we've gotta give 'em what they want, no matter our own preferences.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 03:48 (fourteen years ago) link

here's another take. this one's from the associated press:

New Times Media Buys Village Voice

By SETH SUTEL, AP Business Writer

New Times Media, the nation's largest publisher of alternative
weekly newspapers, is buying the owner of the Village Voice and
its five sister newspapers, creating a company with 17 weekly
publications and a combined circulation of 1.8 million.

The new company will keep the Village Voice name but will be
run by the two top executives of New Times Media, a
Phoenix-based company with 11 newspapers, the companies
announced Monday.

The deal creates a dominant player in the alternative
newsweekly business with nearly a quarter of the industry's total
circulation of 7.6 million, according to Richard Karpel, executive
director of the Association of Alternative Weeklies, a trade group.

New Times shareholders will own 62 percent of the new
company and Village Voice shareholders the remaining 38
percent. The board of the new company will also be made up of
a majority of New Times directors.

New Times CEO Jim Larkin will run the new company, to be
called Village Voice Media, and New Times executive editor
Michael Lacey will be executive editor. Village Voice CEO David
Schneiderman will oversee online operations.

Schneiderman said the combination would allow the
newspapers to more effectively compete for national advertising
and build up a bigger presence online, where newspapers face
competition to their lucrative classified advertising business
from free listings services like Craigslist.

The newspapers from the Voice group will be added to
backpage.com, a free online classified advertising venture that is
owned by New Times and was launched as an alternative to
Craigslist.

The combined company would have overall revenues of about
$180 million, Schneiderman said. He declined to disclose other
financial details, noting that both companies are privately held,
but he did say both were "comfortably profitable."

The Village Voice, with a free circulation of about 250,000, is one
of the best known alternative weekly newspapers in the country.
It was co-founded in 1955 by the novelist Norman Mailer, and
has been owned at various times by magazine industry veteran
Clay Felker; Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and the
businessman Leonard Stern.

Under the new structure, the Voice's editor Donald Forst will
continue in his current role but will report to Lacey, as will the
editors of the Voice's five other weeklies in Los Angeles and
Orange County, Calif.; Seattle, Minneapolis / St. Paul and
Nashville.

New Times publishes in 11 cities including Phoenix, Cleveland,
Houston, San Francisco, Miami and Dallas.

The absorption of the Voice and its sister newspapers into a
larger company would do nothing to dampen their
antiestablishment tone, Schneiderman said.

"We kept our finger firmly planted in the eye of the establishment
when Murdoch owned us," Schneiderman said. "It's part of our
genetic makeup."

The deal will be subject to federal regulatory approval. The two
companies have run afoul of regulators before, and in 2003
settled charges of collusive behavior from the Justice
Department after selling competing papers to each other in Los
Angeles and Cleveland.

The deal had been expected, and has been the subject of much
discussion in the alternative weekly industry. For smaller
publications, the creation of a big company with newspapers in
several large cities including New York, Miami and San
Francisco could mean tougher competition for national
advertising.

"I think there's a sense of resignation," said Brian Hieggelke, the
publisher of the alternative weekly Newcity in Chicago. Hieggelke
is also director of the board of a cooperative that sells national
advertising for weeklies which competes with Ruxton Media
Group, a similar business owned by New Times. As part of the
deal, the Voice papers will become part of Ruxton's ad sales
network.

"For people who aren't part of New Times or (Village Voice
Media), the best case scenario is that it will be neutral for their
business, but in many cases it will be a negative," Hieggelke
said.

The Voice is currently owned by a group of investors including
three private investment funds: one managed by Goldman
Sachs; Weiss, Peck & Greer and the Trimaran Fund. None of
those investors is exiting as part of the current transaction.

geeta (geeta), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 03:57 (fourteen years ago) link

What bothers me is that right now, without yet being under New Times, the Voice is a dishonest paper, and has been for quite a time. Whatever may have been wrong with the old Village Voice, the writers weren't afraid to speak the truth as they saw it; that truth might have been twisted or weird or idiosyncratic, but if others on staff disagreed, then they'd weigh in with their own version, or spout off in the letters section. You'd get squabbles and you'd get noise, but you'd get an array of voices. I suppose it's possible that Schanberg will address the takeover in his column tomorrow or next week - it's his fucking job to do so. We'll see how he does. It's appalling that the The Washington Post rather than the Voice talks to Lacey and gives you a hint of what's in store ("We knew damn well that good stories sell, not people doing raving opinion pieces about how outraged they are. Blogs have made it completely unnecessary to have alternative newspapers fulfilling that role") or the fact that the New York Times and not the Voice tells you that New Times forbids political endorsements. Man, if only Cockburn were doing Press Clips...

As for what's in store... Well, Westword, the New Times paper in Denver, has no book review section. And yes, Rob, I know that not all New Times papers are the same. Still, what does that tell you about these guys' priorities? Or, if you're interested, got to www.westword.com and type "TABOR" into the search engine, or "C and D" (what next week's ballot is going to be all about in Colorado), and follow the links, and see if you learn anything about it. Pitiful.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 04:47 (fourteen years ago) link

(the voice sports section, when it was around, was pretty essential reading. that hentoff-on-manning crack pretty much reveals that the crackee had zero exposure to it.)

maura (maura), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 04:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Back in the '80s, the Voice's sports section was the best part of the paper.

Xpost Xpost Xpost

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 04:59 (fourteen years ago) link

"Blogs have made it completely unnecessary to have alternative newspapers fulfilling that role"

This is inelegant code for unfastening everyone who had an opinion in hard copy versus someone who will give you their opinion for free or pennies on the Internet. What's the difference, actually? Well, one's a rationalization and an excuse, the other's the justification for the rationalization and the excuse. It's just like every other newspaper manically seized by obsession and fear of/with content from the Internet. Most newspapers are going through or will go through this in 2005 or next year. Even though profitable, cuts are expected at the biggest because it's the way corporate does things.

And before the regrets and bad news there is always the parade of rationalizations about the Internet and nature of editorial content and its origin and how the changing world has dictated something bad but we're still dedicated to and will do great journalism because great journalism is great.

Of course, you follow this to its logical conclusion, you don't even need local editors over the next few years. You can ship raw copy instantaneously to Indonesia or any old ex-Brit empire country now a slave labor nation with high bandwidth telecomm connections to the net and get the product back to you before you get up in the morning.
Hey, "The Internet had made it completely unnecessary to have workers at alternate newspapers fulfilling this role."

George the Animal Steele, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 05:14 (fourteen years ago) link

xpost the Chang entry was most interesting to me when he responded to the reader's question about who owns the papers that NT doesn't, and he listed several indies I'd never heard of, as well as some that I had.He mentions Creative Loafing's original Atlanta edition, but they also have Tampa Bay and Charlotte offices. I've been writing for Charlotte's, and, although it's usually (not always) tied to somebody that's performing there, they do get quite a lot of good acts there. And no asskissing, that I've seen. Kandia Crazy Horse busted the Stones--well, she busted 'em down to the ground, right or wrong, no hedging at all. So, indie can still mean that, local coverage can still mean that; so far, anyway. (It may have gotten more people to the show, to see if she's right--A Child's Introduction To The Whorecstra, perhaps.)

don, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 05:31 (fourteen years ago) link

Copy has just noted that I misspelled "Whorechestra."

don, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 05:34 (fourteen years ago) link

Busting the Stones makes you indie?

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 05:51 (fourteen years ago) link

One possible welcome effect: better movie reviews from more reviewers. Another possible welcome effect: the fact that NT papers allow their music sections to re-use material from the other papers ... thereby possibly marrying the Kogan/Catucci approach with the Wilonsky/John Lomax/Michael Roberts approach. Good reportage and provocative thought together? Could be not such a bad thing ...

Chris O., Tuesday, 25 October 2005 15:31 (fourteen years ago) link

That's something that's always bugged me about the NT film sections, the tendency to use the same handful of writers EVERYWHERE. How long has it been that way?

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 15:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Don't know. Hmmmmm, will C. Eddy be pressured to run reviews from other New Times papers???? How about Matos in Seattle???

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 18:24 (fourteen years ago) link

Putting aside VVM vs. non-VVM papers...

We all have different opinions on who are the better or worse editors of these papers. (This isn't even relating to music editors, necessarily. This can be arts editors, food editors, film editors, political editors, CHIEF editors, etc.) Every paper has a combination of good and bad editors... some are overall better than others.

What this New Times buyout will do is essentially equalize the good and bad qualities of these papers. The shitty editors will have to shape up, and the good editors will be likely (and this depends on which delegate at the Denver/Phoenix Borg Central is assigned to whom) be told how to do things, when they don't need to be told how to do things.

All in all, this is sad, because while a lot of really bad sections might improve, a lot of great sections are likely going to be compromised, and I don't think anything will arise from this that will equal the greatness of the latter. These singular visions that were enjoyable sections are going to be less singular, and this is the sad part. But hey, cut-to-the-chase corporate visions aren't really interested in preserving uniquely great quality in certain spots.. they're interested in across-the-board profitability, even if it means the referendums are going to blemish the good spots, as well as improve the bad spots.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 18:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Anyway, I suspect this thread is going to be deluged with bile very soon, once the competing non-VVM papers weight in on this when their stories come out this week... some cogently, some not-so-cogently...

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 18:53 (fourteen years ago) link

xpost"busting the Stones makes you indie?" Uh, no, but just a reminder that already being indie doesn't have to mean that you kiss ass. Since a lot of the market is still indie, at this point, the New Times Village Voice Media merger doesn't nec. signal the end of all non-self-published dissent. (And what she wrote went way beyond any conventional Leno-type jokes about their age, etc.)

don, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 19:08 (fourteen years ago) link

One thing to keep in mind is that independently owned in no way guarantees "good," any more than pre-Gannett independently-owned daily papers were necessarily good. There are some pretty weak independently-owned alt papers, especially in smaller markets, and they're contending with all the same pressures from online and elsewhere that the corporate chains are. Some of them would benefit greatly from having, say, New Times or Village Voice movie or music reviews. Corporatization freaks people out, for a lot of good reasons, but it is far from the only issue in regard to the quality of alt-weekly journalism.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 19:09 (fourteen years ago) link

is that cover intentionally hideous?

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 16 October 2014 08:26 (five years ago) link

My money is on either angry art director or incompetent intern

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Thursday, 16 October 2014 15:16 (five years ago) link

It does have a slightly "break every design rule" quality to it, but not quite enough so to be "anti-aesthetic." It's weird to think someone actually went to the trouble to make that Statue of Liberty illustration -- wonder if it's modified clip art or something.

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Thursday, 16 October 2014 15:18 (five years ago) link

the sandwich one...

the other song about butts in the top 5 (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 16 October 2014 20:22 (five years ago) link

is it a drag SOL doing the Heisman?

my jaw left (Hurting 2), Thursday, 16 October 2014 20:45 (five years ago) link

eleven months pass...

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/nyregion/village-voice-sold-to-peter-barbey-owner-of-a-pennsylvania-newspaper.html

Peter D. Barbey, through his investment company Black Walnut Holdings L.L.C., bought the paper from Voice Media Group, which owns a string of weeklies around the country.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Mr. Barbey declined to discuss the details.

However, in an interview, he vowed to invest in the paper and once again make it relevant in the cultural life of New York City.

“I realize that The Voice has had a unique journalistic role in New York and the country as a whole,” Mr. Barbey, 58, said. “That deserves to survive and prosper.”

The paper, he said, was once an essential “voice of the arts and cultural community in New York.” While he will not take over full control of the paper until February, Mr. Barbey said he would focus first on bolstering its arts coverage — mainly by attracting top writers.

“Over the years it’s been known as a place that made writers’ reputations,” Mr. Barbey said. “If you were a good writer, you wanted to write for The Voice.”

“One of the biggest problems in media today is lack of attention to content,” he said. “Many publications have stripped their content.”

That will not happen under his watch, he said.

When asked about the financial resources he would devote to the paper, Mr. Barbey would not be specific but noted that his family’s wealth could be ascertained quickly through a Google search.

The Barbeys rank 48th on the Forbes list of America’s wealthiest families.

it's not a tuomas (benbbag), Tuesday, 13 October 2015 13:06 (four years ago) link

hm
anybody got some perspective on this?

a literal scarecrow on a quaint porch (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 13 October 2015 13:25 (four years ago) link

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2015/10/8579442/meet-peter-barbey-latest-owner-take-village-voice

Skeptics will abound, including some of those very Voice vets.

"You mean the Voice still exists?" Hoberman sniffed when asked for his thoughts on the sale. Seriously though: "Even if the new owners are inclined to spend money, they'll have a near impossible time restoring any credibility."

"Weeklies, accustomed to big reports without much of a time peg, seem to have had a particularly difficult transition to a mixed digital/print publishing model," Poynter Institute media analyst Rick Edmonds wrote on Monday. "Best case — Barbey will also infuse some money and editorial vitality into the Village Voice. But I wouldn’t look for a turnaround ... given how much the business base for the Voice and similar publications has deteriorated."

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:05 (four years ago) link

i feel like you'd have to be very VERY rich to actually sink enough money into the VV to turn it around and not worry about the losses. is he that rich?

wizzz! (amateurist), Tuesday, 13 October 2015 22:28 (four years ago) link

yes
http://nypost.com/2015/10/12/pennsylvania-family-set-to-own-the-village-voice/

The Barbey family, the 48th richest in America, according to Forbes — with a net worth of $6.1 billion — derives most of its fortune from a 20 percent stake in apparel maker VF Corp., maker of Lee, Wrangler and North Face apparel.

a literal scarecrow on a quaint porch (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 14 October 2015 03:13 (four years ago) link

one year passes...
one month passes...

The Village Voice is ending its weekly print edition. End of a journalism era in New York City.

— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) August 22, 2017

mookieproof, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 16:44 (two years ago) link

Village Voice ownership shutters paper, will continue it "as a brand" online and as "a host of new events, products and initiatives." https://t.co/HUu3C8yBXu

— Nick Pinto (@macfathom) August 22, 2017

mookieproof, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 17:07 (two years ago) link

oof

nomar, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 17:08 (two years ago) link

The Village Voice also published this. I feel reason #15, by @mgerber937, is one of the greatest jokes in history https://t.co/88NBsbMCt6 pic.twitter.com/bMLTEyi1SV

— Jon Schwarz (@tinyrevolution) August 22, 2017

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 22 August 2017 19:57 (two years ago) link

Yeah this is sad. Yoko used to take out these cool full page ads, a couple in the last year or so, with photos of her and John and lyrics to songs or other things and I wonder if she'll continue this online and I'd guess not

calstars, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 20:19 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

R.I.P.
http://gothamist.com/2018/08/31/village_voice_is_officially_dead.php

I, for one, wish/hope someone/somewhere picks up Pazz & Jop and continues it.

alpine static, Friday, 31 August 2018 17:13 (one year ago) link

"today is kind of a sucky day" jfc

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Friday, 31 August 2018 17:18 (one year ago) link

its been a long goodbye but it still hurts

Hakim Bae's TMZ (s.clover), Friday, 31 August 2018 18:07 (one year ago) link

L.A. Weekly still creaking along w/me-first careerists sticking around for the new right-wing regime

omar little, Friday, 31 August 2018 18:33 (one year ago) link

dumb question, i guess: why doesn't some liberal billionaire buy up all the papers that need help, install good managers, and be a hero?

i realize it's hard to hemorrhage money forever, but some people can afford it. why not hire the right people and tell them "hey, lose as little money as you can, please, but i've got your back. and also keep tinkering with new methods and content and who knows maybe you'll hit on something that helps in a big way."

this is what i would do if i had the money.

alpine static, Friday, 31 August 2018 18:50 (one year ago) link

there's Jeff Bezos I guess

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Friday, 31 August 2018 18:58 (one year ago) link

he said liberal

▫◌▫ (sic), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:17 (one year ago) link

tbh after the print ed shut, i never looked at it unless i saw a link to a piece.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:19 (one year ago) link

by that definition "liberal billionaire" is an oxymoron

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:19 (one year ago) link

Wrote many times in the late '00s yet even with the superb editors who tightened my sentences (never forgot a PHONE line edit with Chuck Eddy in early 2006) there was already a sense in which the clock was ticking. I'm sorry I lived long enough to see this day.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:22 (one year ago) link

I'm amazed our two alt-weeklies have survived the shrinkage since they had to stop running sex work ads - the Dallas Observer is a shell that runs a scattering of local political news and reprints national stories (from New Times, I guess?), the FW Weekly is even smaller but pretty left-wing, they've been running stories from local DSA people every so often.

louise ck (milo z), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:28 (one year ago) link

this is what i would do if i had the money.

also why you'll never be a billionaire tho

louise ck (milo z), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:29 (one year ago) link

I wrote a letter to the VV in the '90s about Public Enemy's homophobia (Flavor Flav's really), and someone phoned me to carefully line-edit that.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:35 (one year ago) link

I think it's safe to say that without the Village Voice I might never have achieved my dream of being a childless 37-year-old debt-ridden "critic's critic" with a niche social media presence and chronic knee pain RIP.

— 𝕿𝖗𝖔𝖚𝖇𝖑𝖊 𝕰𝖛𝖊𝖗𝖞 𝕯𝖆𝖞 (@NickPinkerton) August 31, 2018

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 31 August 2018 19:57 (one year ago) link

I care somewhat, not much. The end of the print run seemed much more historically significant. But the online version meant there was still Pazz & Jop, and without that, I'll literally lose my final motivation (following the end of my "freelance" "career" and the implosion of a college radio station where I had a show) to keep up with new music.

Pleasure? I guess I could try that.

clemenza, Friday, 31 August 2018 21:20 (one year ago) link

wasn't sure which thread to bump, but...

I know it was only a shadow of itself over the last several years, but the actual demise of the Village Voice makes me very nostalgic

It was the print publication that I cared about above all others in the 80s and 90s. there were so many great writers who contributed to it

Dan S, Friday, 31 August 2018 22:47 (one year ago) link

oh I see this thread has already been revived!

Dan S, Friday, 31 August 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

This last (hopefully just latest) owner proclaimed that he intended to bring back the pre-New Times glory days, but I later read that he'd invested in extremely expensive real estate, a palace in the Village/ Also he busted or greatly impaired the union (the Voice had its own union). So a capital drain, talent drain (I know several people who made a point of avoiding the place/brand after that, though they all needed/need the work).
I, for one, wish/hope someone/somewhere picks up Pazz & Jop and continues it.
Maybe a GoFundMe? Too much for a labor of love, also too much for noobs.

dow, Saturday, 1 September 2018 01:02 (one year ago) link

Maybe most of all a credibility drain? Other activities showing what his real priorities were (dude might've been lying to himself, even).

dow, Saturday, 1 September 2018 01:08 (one year ago) link

I was there when Nat Hentoff cleaned his office. They filled dumpsters. I took a bunch of Philip Roth books that were left out. I learned that I hate Philip Roth.

Yerac, Saturday, 1 September 2018 01:29 (one year ago) link

lol

Dan S, Saturday, 1 September 2018 01:42 (one year ago) link

VV died for me when Chuck E was fired, not sure I missed a lot

President Keyes, Saturday, 1 September 2018 02:31 (one year ago) link

what would it really take to keep P&J going somewhere else?

- someone w/ time and/or $, plus motivation
- a platform
- VV's mailing list
- some way to tabulate

am i missing something major?

alpine static, Saturday, 1 September 2018 08:51 (one year ago) link

revive jackin' pop

dyl, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:21 (one year ago) link

But the online version meant there was still Pazz & Jop, and without that, I'll literally lose my final motivation to keep up with new music.

this is kind of astonishing to me

dyl, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:22 (one year ago) link

I'm an astonishing person.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 September 2018 19:42 (one year ago) link

Old too

The Great Atomic Power Ballad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 September 2018 21:28 (one year ago) link

I listen to hours of music most days, often completely new-to-me, but still expect the ILX annual tracks poll to point me in new directions for songs, movements and artists more than anything else during the year. clemenza otm.

▫◌▫ (sic), Saturday, 1 September 2018 21:51 (one year ago) link

Old too

That's it, dyl. I don't know how old you are, but, absent any professional obligations, I don't think it's that unusual to lose track of the plot in your mid-50s. Most everyone I know in my non-rock-critic life lost it in their early 20s. (I do get a lot of satisfaction out of putting together a year-end list with comments, though, so I'm just dumb enough to keep doing it for my homepage.)

clemenza, Sunday, 2 September 2018 02:44 (one year ago) link

new music in the pop vein is generally not for me, i've heard enough. 90% of P&J was a mystery to me 10 years ago.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 2 September 2018 02:58 (one year ago) link

if they're so dead why do new articles keep showing up? admittedly they're all by the same person. and one of them's about jethro tull. stands to reason they'd finally get their due via dead voice.

Thus Sang Freud, Tuesday, 11 September 2018 23:36 (one year ago) link


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