The Village Voice
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper in New York City featuring investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts reviews and events listings for New York City. It is also distributed throughout the United States on a pay basis.
It was the first and is arguably the best known of the arts-oriented tabloids that have come to be known as alternative weeklies, though its reputation has been unstable since a recent buyout by publishing conglomerate New Times Media. The turbulent times its writers have covered has often been matched by the intrigue in its own offices, most recently including the firing of several high-profile contributors and a scandal over a forged story in 2005, the year the paper turned 50. The Voice's spirit can be captured in its 1980s advertising slogan: "Some people swear by us...other people swear AT us."
The Voice was launched by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer on October 26, 1955, from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, its initial coverage area, expanding to other parts of the city by the 1960s. The offices in the 1960s were located at Sheridan Square; they are now at Cooper Square in the East Village.
The Voice has published groundbreaking investigations of New York City politics, as well as reporting on local and national politics, with arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews. The Voice has received three Pulitzer Prizes, in 1981 (Teresa Carpenter), 1986 (Jules Feiffer) and 2000 (Mark Schoofs). Almost since its inception the paper has recognized alternative theater in New York through its Obie Awards. From the early 1970s to 2005 music critic Robert Christgau ran a highly influential music poll known as "Pazz & Jop" every February from the "top ten" lists submitted by music critics from around the country. In 1999, film critic J. Hoberman and film section editor Dennis Lim began a similar Village Voice Film Poll for the year's movies. In 2001 the paper sponsored its first Siren Festival indie rock festival, a free annual event every summer held at Coney Island.
The Voice has published many well-known writers, including Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, Nat Hentoff, Ted Hoagland, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, Ron Rosenbaum, Paul Levinson, Jerry Tallmer, Allen Ginsberg, Lester Bangs, Murray Kempton, I.F. Stone, Pete Hamill, Roger Wilkins and Joshua Clover. Former editors have included Dan Wolf, Clay Felker, Tom Morgan, Marianne Partridge, David Schneiderman, Diane Fischer, Robert Friedman, Marty Gottlieb, Jonathan Larson, and Karen Durbin.
Village Voice columnists have included Rachel Kramer Bussel, Tristan Taormino, Alexander Cockburn, Nina Lalli, Michael Musto, Joy Press, Tricia Romano, Andrew Sarris, Dan Savage, Sydney H. Schanberg, Toni Schlesinger, Robert Sietsema, Silke Tudor and Corina Zappia.
Early columnists of the 1950s and 1960s included Jonas Mekas, who explored the underground film movement in his "Film Journal" column; Linda Solomon, who reviewed the Village club scene in the "Riffs" column; and Sam Julty, who wrote a popular column on car ownership and maintenance. Another regular from that period was the cartoonist Kin Platt, who did weekly theatrical caricatures. Other prominent regulars have included Peter Schjeldahl, Ellen Willis, Leslie Savan, C. Carr, Simon Firth, Tom Carson, Mim Udovitch, Wayne Barrett and Ross Wetzsteon.
The newspaper has also been a host to promising underground cartoonists. In addition to mainstay Jules Feiffer, whose cartoon ran for decades in the paper until its cancellation in 1996, well-known cartoonists featured in the paper have included Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Stan Mack, Mark Alan Stamaty, Ted Rall, Tom Tomorrow, Ward Sutton, Ruben Bolling and currently M. Wartella.
The Voice is also known for containing adult content, including sex advice columns and many pages of advertising for "adult services" (escorts, prostitutes, etc.). This content is located at the back of the newspaper. The other large newspapers in New York City do not carry adult content.
The Voice's competitors in New York City include the New York Press, New York Observer and Time Out New York. After decades of carrying a cover price, the Voice responded to competition from the free New York Press by itself becoming free of charge on newsstands in the five boroughs -- in 1996. (It still carries a charge for home/mail delivery and for newsstands outside the city limits, such as on Long Island.) Its circulation as of June 2006 was 247,417.
Seventeen alternative weeklies around the United States are owned by the Voice's parent company Village Voice Media. In 2005, the Phoenix alternative weekly chain New Times Media purchased the company and took the Village Voice Media name. Previous owners of Village Voice Media have included Felker, Rupert Murdoch, and Leonard Stern of the Hartz Mountain empire.