Sad news in the publishing world today, as multiple outlets report that The Village Voice—a guiding light in the world of music, film, and cultural criticism, and the pre-eminent alt-weekly newspaper of its era—has stopped production, likely for good. Per Gothamist, the news was announced to the paper’s remaining staff this morning by owner Peter Barbey, who declared the occasion “Kind of a sucky day.”
Barbey is the latest in a long series of owners whose hands the venerable paper—which stopped print publication last year—has passed through in the last few decades, as the escalating dangers of print journalism took their toll on the long-running institution. (The most disastrous being its purchase by New Times Media in 2005, which led to the departures of any number of the paper’s most famous contributors, including legendary music critic Robert Christgau.) Barbey—who noted during the meeting that “I bought the Village Voice to save it; this isn’t exactly how I thought it was going to end up”—announced today that most of the paper’s current staff are being laid-off, with the rest being kept on to help archive its decades of material.
As a site with a heavy focus on figuring out the ways that film makes us think and feel, we here at The A.V. Club owe an obvious debt to the Voice, and to the people—veteran film editor J. Hoberman, but also more recent writers like Alan Scherstuhl, Bilge Ebiri, Melissa E. Anderson, April Wolfe, and many more—who helped make it a bastion for independent, thoughtful, frequently funny conversations about the merits of the medium. Even as practicalities and financial pressures pushed harder and harder against the desire for good conversation about good movies—and the occasional descent into delightful outright madness—the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writers continued to set a high bar for the aims that film and cultural criticism could fulfill. Their example will be missed, or, to put it another way: It’s kind of a sucky day.