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HomeFeaturesThe Village Voice, pioneer and icon of alternative news, is dead

The Village Voice, pioneer and icon of alternative news, is dead

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The founders had shut the print edition in 2017. Between 2013 and 2014, its circulation dropped 25%.

New Delhi: The voice of a global village for over six decades, an iconic news outlet has shut shop in the face of “harsh economic realities”.

The Village Voice, the US’ first alternative newspaper, was founded in New York 63 years ago.

From extensive coverage about its renowned cultural scene – the theatre shows to watch, the concerts to attend – to apartment listings, its main revenue source in the pre-Craigslist era, the journal was the go-to outlet for generations of residents and tourists for stories of the city.

Its archives will be digitised entirely by a small team of the weekly, so fans can continue to access its coverage over the years, with its pages in particular offering a front-seat view to some of Western music’s milestone moments, from Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix to Woodstock and Bob Dylan.

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According to a report in The New York Times, its “resident muckraker” Wayne Barrett’s “obsessive work” on Donald Trump, a towering figure of the city’s business and social scene for years before his political stint, has “become a resource for reporters covering the US President today”.

Announcing the outlet’s closure Friday, Peter Barbey, who acquired The Village Voice in 2015 with the promise of giving it a fresh lease of life, said it was “a sad day for millions of readers”.

A winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, the paper had been seeing a drop in readership of late at a time described as particularly challenging for smaller media outlets in the US.

According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, though still the second most widely read alternative newsweekly in the US, The Village Voice registered a 25 per cent drop in circulation between 2013 and 2014.

What was The Village Voice?

The Village Voice was founded by three New Yorkers, Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer, in July 1955, at New York City’s Greenwich Village. It catered to the artist community based in Greenwich Village that often had views that differed from those of the mainstream.

In the 1960s, Greenwich Village emerged as the undeniable epicentre of the counter-culture movement, known as the hippie era, also becoming a hot spot for jazz and off-Broadway theatre.

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The Village Voice opposed the Vietnam war, and also wrote about gay and civil rights, issues that were hot buttons in the US at the time.

The outlet defined itself as “free-form, high-spirited, and passionate journalism” placed in the hands of the public discourse.

In the 63 years since The Village Voice came up, hundreds of similarly themed outlets have come up across the world for readers looking for journalism that doesn’t stick to mainstream mores.

Alternative media has sought to establish itself as a platform for stories that mainstream media may find too provocative or controversial, and often offer a voice to the marginalised.


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