The Village Voice

Coordinates: 40°43′42″N 73°59′28″W / 40.7283°N 73.9911°W / 40.7283; -73.9911

The Cooper Square former head office of the paper
Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff; photo by Tom Pich

The Village Voice is a free weekly 17" by 11" format newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City. It is also distributed throughout the United States on a pay basis.

It was the first of the urban tabloid-format newspapers that came to be known as alternative weeklies, and as such is the oldest and largest newspaper of its kind in the United States.

    History

    Early years

    October 1955 cover

    The Voice was launched by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer on October 26, 1955 from a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, which was its initial coverage area, expanding to other parts of the city by the 1960s. In the 1960s the offices were located at Sheridan Square; then,from the 70's through 1980, at 11th Street and University Place; and then Broadway and 13th Street. In 1991 they moved to Cooper Square in the East Village, and in 2013, to the Financial District.

    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. It has received three Pulitzer Prizes, in 1981 (Teresa Carpenter), 1986 (Jules Feiffer) and 2000 (). Almost since its inception the paper has recognized alternative theater in New York through its Obie Awards. The paper's "Pazz & Jop" music poll, started by Robert Christgau in the early 1970s, continues to this day and remains a highly influential survey of the nation's music critics. 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 music festival, a free annual event every summer held at Coney Island. That event has since been moved to the lower tip of Manhattan and re-christened the " Music Festival," a reference to the speed of the East River's current.

    The Voice has published many well-known writers, including Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, staff writer and author M.S.Cone, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, Nat Hentoff, staff writer and author Ted Hoagland, William Bastone of thesmokinggun.com, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, Lester Bangs, Catholic activist and author Thomas E. Byers, Allen Ginsberg and Joshua Clover. Former editors have included Clay Felker and .

    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 , who wrote a popular column on car ownership and maintenance. John Wilcock wrote a column every week for the paper's first ten years. Another regular from that period was the cartoonist Kin Platt, who did weekly theatrical caricatures. Other prominent regulars have included Peter Schjeldahl, Ellen Willis, Tom Carson, Wayne Barrett, and Richard Goldstein.

    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 R. Crumb, 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". This content is located at the back of the newspaper. It is known locally for being the place where most hard rock or jazz concerts are announced, sometimes with full page paid ads. Most groups visiting New York advertise in the Voice for publicity. Most venues in NYC advertise their concerts in The Village Voice.

    The Voice's competitors in New York City include New York Observer and Time Out New York. In 1996, after decades of carrying a cover price, the Voice switched from a paid weekly to a free, alternative weekly. The Voice’s web site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award (2001) and the Editor & Publisher EPpy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service – Weekly, Community, Alternative & Free (2003).

    While the Voice is today known for its staunch support for the civil rights of gays -- it publishes an annual Gay Pride issue every June -- it wasn't always so. Early in its history, the newspaper had a reputation as having an anti-homosexual slant. When reporting on the Stonewall riots of 1969, the newspaper referred to the riots as "The Great Faggot Rebellion". Two reporters, Smith and Truscott, both used the words "faggot" and "dyke" in their articles about the riots. (These words were not commonly used by homosexuals to refer to each other at this time.) After the riot, the Gay Liberation Front attempted to promote dances for gays and lesbians and were not allowed to use the words gay or homosexual, which the newspaper considered derogatory. The newspaper changed their policy after the GLF petitioned the Voice to do so.

    The Voice was the second organization in the US known to have extended domestic partner benefits, in July 1982. Jeff Weinstein, an employee of the paper and shop steward for the publishing local of District 65 UAW, negotiated and won agreement in the union contract to extend health, life insurance, and disability benefits to the "spouse equivalents" of its union members.

    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 The Village Voice or of Village Voice Media have included co-founders Fancher and Wolf, New York City Councilman ,New York Magazine founder Clay Felker, Rupert Murdoch, and Leonard Stern of the Hartz Mountain empire.

    The paper is referenced in the musical Rent during the song La Vie Boheme. The line goes: "To riding your bike midday past the three piece suits, to fruits, to no absolutes; to Absolut; to choice; to The Village Voice, to any passing fad."

    Changes after acquisition by New Times Media

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