Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More on that Crazy Village Voice Business

Earlier I went into how I felt about the Voice merger with New Times. I guess my indifference to the matter was based more off the idea that the underground prevails and has prevailed in its many forms. The Voice is an icon, a symbol of alternative press and the movement that started it, but many former writers and loyal readers declare the paper isn’t what it once was; it is no longer a paper for writers. It leaves one to wonder about the relevance of the Voice, New Times merger. I respect the vehemence with which some people greet the merger and I understand it, and have been reading about the matter over and over again in the past coming weeks along with everyone else.

Former Voice writer Mark Jacobson
writes about the new owner Mike Lacey, his apparent enthusiasm and his goals to revitalize the paper. It’s an interesting piece, Lacey comes off as a surprisingly (even to Jacobson) likeable owner, described as the most Blue Collar owner in the history of the paper.
Word of bad morale at the Voice, however, brought Lacey up short. Although no slouch with the downsize scythe himself (mass-firing tales are legend in the New Times canon), Lacey shook his head at stories of layoffs. You don’t get rid of good people just to save money. They’re too hard to find. You don’t discourage them. You want a lively newsroom, some action. Sturm. Drang. That place seemed dead.

He couldn’t seem to get over David Schneiderman, his new partner, referring to himself as a numbers guy. He liked Schneiderman and had learned not to underestimate him. But a numbers guy . . . Sounds like death. I can’t even balance my checkbook. It’s so sick the way most of the business runs. The top editors don’t edit. Never touch a piece of copy. What do they do all day, think beautiful thoughts? The way we do it, the editors have to write too. They should never forget how hard it is, the fucking agony of it. I make myself write and report. It kills me, but I do it.
He went on to speak about the changes that came along with editor Donald Forst.
It was clear from the start that Don Forst’s paper was to be a wholly different animal. One of the first acts in the Forst era was the firing of Jules Feiffer, universally regarded as the paper?s most visible and beloved symbol. It wasn’t just that they canned Jules, says one Voicer who, like almost everyone else, preferred to remain nameless. ?It was well known that they thought he was making too much money, if you can call $75,000 too much for Jules Feiffer. They’d been after Karen Durbin, the last editor, to get rid of him. But what really blew people’s minds was when Forst said there wasn’t going to be any shit about it, none of that letters-from-the-outraged-staff stuff that has always gone on at the Voice. The staff tried to buy an ad to complain, but the ad department said they wouldn’t run it. That’s when we knew we’d entered a period of malign neglect at the Village Voice.
He also talks about the harassment suit against Donald Forst’s by writer Richard Goldstien. Definitely worth checking out at The Smoking Gun.

There. That’s enough blogging for the day. My office just exploded over little tool boxes. I’m exhausted.


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