Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Does the Village Voice Have Laryngitis?

Dear, darling 2009 has begun and already the bad news from the media world is trickling in again. Let's see:

Forbes Layoffs Finally Arrive: 19 Fired From Magazine, Web


McGraw-Hill Cut 375 Jobs in Fourth Quarter
BusinessWeek publisher eliminated 70 positions from media group

But really, this is the most startling thing -- well, then again, maybe it isn't, given how bad things have been getting. It wasn't regrettable enough that Village Voice Media kicked Nat Hentoff, its legendary columnist, to the curb, but now comes word that the equally legendary alt-weekly may not even survive the current economic downtown.

Here's an excerpt from an internal Voice memo that was reprinted on a great blogpost that I came across:

December 31, 2008

To all Village Voice staffers:

It's no secret that the chickens have come home to roost from the George Bush economy of the past eight years. We have all felt the downturn at Village Voice Media operations and, as you know, have been trimming expenses since December of 2007

Unfortunately, this year we have found it necessary to make staff reductions and have placed all staff openings on hold.

We are also going to take these additional measures effective January 1, 2009:

1) All VVM senior managers and officers, including Larkin and Lacey, are taking 15% pay reductions.

2) VVM Publishers and Editors are taking 10% pay reductions until our revenues begin to grow again.

3) We will suspend the Village Voice Media match into our 401-K plan. The plan will still remain open and we urge you to take advantage of the tax deferred personal savings advantages.
There is more to this memo, of course, including a fair amount of rosy prose that promises happy days are here again at some point in the future.

But clearly this is unfortunate.

PS There is also this story, with accompanying video, called Is the Village Voice a Zombie Newspaper? Watch the video to see Russ Smith, founder of New York Press, among other publications, be so down on the Voice, alt-weeklies, print, the GOP and more or less everything else in the world.

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