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NEWS AND VIEWS FROM INSIDE THE MEDIA BUBBLE BY BRIAN CLAREY

Voice concerns

The Village Voice started in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1955 — one of the principals was novelist Norman Mailer — as a politics and culture rag that documented the bohemian scene in a style and voice that was, at the time, brand new. Every alt-weekly in the country, including YES! Weekly, owes a debt to the Voice for basically creating the genre in which we all function. I used to buy it when I was a kid — this was before it was free — just so I could get a window into the NYC lifestyle that was so far removed from my existence on Long Island.

Though it’s won three Pulitzers, the last in 2000, the Voice has been muted these last few years, some say because of new ownership that came in when the New Times chain purchased it in 2005 and appropriated the name for its company. Leadership issues, a tough market and bad press through its adult ad property backpage.com have conspired to hit the Voice hard, and news of layoffs within the company and the paper itself inspired several blog posts and columns about the plight of the alt-weekly.

But the truth is that the Voice kind of sucks these days, with fawning coverage of celebrities, a blogroll devoted primarily to food consumption and absolutely no news hole in the print product. These days the Village Voice speaks for… no one. Or, as David Carr, a former alt-weekly writer and editor now with the New York Times, puts it, “In a large market like New York, the Voice, which used to make a noise nationally, has a hard time standing above the metropolitan clutter.”

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