The Village Voice, the famed New York newspaper that birthed the media category known today as alternative weeklies, will cease publishing new material after today.
Audio obtained by New York-based news and culture website Gothamist revealed Voice owner Peter Barbey telling staff that the publication will no longer be posting any new stories, “due to, basically, business realities.”
Gothamist reported that approximately half of the Voice’s staff was let go today. The other half, which totals approximately 15 to 20 employees, would remain onboard to “wind things down” and work on archiving the Voice’s decades of material online.
The news comes less than three years after Barbey purchased the New York City weekly publication, and almost a year to the day after the Voice killed its print edition.
The Village Voice was launched in 1955 by five co-founders, one of whom being author Norman Mailer. The legendary weekly later became a popular platform for such writers as Jack Newfield, Wayne Barrett, Gary Giddins, Hilton Als, Ellen Willis and others.
The publication saw a revolving door of owners in the decades that followed — Rupert Murdoch being one of them — before it was purchased in 2005 by AZ-based newspaper company New Times Media (later Village Voice Media).
Barbey, owner of Reading, PA-based daily newspaper Reading Eagle, purchased the Voice in October 2015 from Village Voice Media spin-off Voice Media Group.
Several months later, Will Bourne, who served as the Voice’s editor-in-chief between 2012 and 2013, returned to the publication at Barbey’s behest.
The Voice sent shockwaves through the media world on August 23 last year, when Barbey announced the end of the Voice’s print edition, a move he said was necessary in order to secure its future while the publication’s digital presence remained.
The audio obtained by Gothamist also intimated that Barbey has “been having conversations with other entities for months now,” regarding a potential sale of the paper, and that today’s shutdown was “something we have to do … before they could talk to us any further.”
However, that issue was not broached in a subsequent statement issued by Barbey on Friday afternoon, which read, in part: “In recent years, the Voice has been subject to the increasingly harsh economic realities facing those creating journalism and written media. Like many others in publishing, we were continually optimistic that relief was around the next corner. Where stability for our business is, we do not know yet. The only thing that is clear now is that we have not reached that destination.”
Barbey said he’s now dedicated to the creation of an enormous, digitized archive of the paper’s past print editions that will “endure to inspire more generations of readers and writers,” and offer them “a chance to experience for themselves what is clearly one of this city’s and this country’s social and cultural treasures.”