The Village Voice Is Killing Off Its Print Edition

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The current issue of the Village Voice.
The current issue of the Village Voice.

The Village Voice, the legendary New York alternative newsweekly, announced today that it's killing off its print edition. It will continue to publish online. Per a statement issued by the paper:

The announcement comes as part of the ongoing effort by owner Peter Barbey, who purchased the Voice in October 2015 from Voice Media Group, to revitalize and reimagine the Village Voice brand. "When The Village Voice was converted into a free weekly in an effort to boost circulation back in 1996, it was at a time when Craigslist was in its infancy, Google and Facebook weren't yet glimmers in the eyes of their founders, and alternative weeklies -- and newspapers everywhere -- were still packed with classified advertising," Mr. Barbey said.

"Clearly a lot has changed since then. That business has moved online -- and so has the Voice's audience, which expects us to do what we do not just once a week, but every day, across a range of media, from words and pictures to podcasts, video, and even other forms of print publishing. This decision will allow us to move forward more freely in our pursuit of all of those avenues so that The Village Voice brand is not just once again viable, but vital."

The bottom line: When he bought the Voice in 2015, Peter Barbey was the latest in a string of white knights for the newspaper. He talked a good game (see "New Owner Has Big Plans for the Village Voice," via The Wall Street Journal) and he appeared to have deep pockets; that same year, The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe chronicled his search for an apartment, writing,

Peter Barbey, the Pennsylvania-based heir to a retail fortune (The North Face, Timberland, Lee jeans), has a new professional home: he's just become the owner of the Village Voice, the alternative weekly that, in its heyday, channelled the feisty, countercultural spirit of Greenwich Village. Now he needs an actual home. So last week, in town to meet with the Voice's editorial staff, he went apartment shopping.

Though Barbey ended up buying a $26 million Village apartment, his pockets -- and/or his patience -- have now run out in regard to shouldering the cost of putting out the print edition of the paper.

The takeway: To his credit, Barbey invested in the print product, bumping up circulation and paying for better paper to showcase a handsome redesign. But it wasn't enough -- and now we've got yet another "end of an era" for the embattled media industry. The Village Voice was founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer and won three Pulizer Prizes over the years.

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