It’s the end of an era. The Village Voice, the free weekly newspaper, is ending its print edition.
A New York staple, the paper chronicled culture, social and political issues, as well as nightlife in the city since it was founded in 1955. The Village Voice will continue to live on digitally and there will be new editorial initiatives and events such as the Obie Awards and the Pride Awards.
A rep from The Voice did not specify how many employees will be let go as a result of the print closure but instead offered: “There will be staff adjustments and layoffs in the near future. A regrettable, yet necessary, outcome.”
The shift is part of a new strategy under owner Peter Barbey, who bought the Voice in October 2015 from Voice Media Group.
“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,” 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.”
When Barbey bought the paper two years ago, he eliminated its reliance on sex and escort advertising in both print and across its digital platforms. He also invested in several new hires on the business and editorial teams, and it made a play at style coverage, debuting a fashion issue last September for New York Fashion Week. Barbey also invested in better paper stock — sometimes a sign that a grim ending is near — and he increased print distribution by more than 50 percent to 120,000 —the Voice’s total circulation before it went free in 1996.
In May, the Voice debuted a redesigned web site, indicating an emphasis on digital, and Barbey said he was “exploring some exciting new opportunities related to its archives.”
Barbey commented on the paper’s print closure, noting: “My family has been in the newspaper business for more than 200 years. I first read The Village Voice in print as a student in the Seventies — that was how I first encountered it and how it became as important to me as it did. But the most powerful thing about the Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week. It was that The Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want The Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people — and for generations to come.”