Call it a sign of the times.
After 61 years as New York’s alternative weekly of record, The Village Voice revealed today that it is forgoing its print edition and going digital-only.
Founded by Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf, and Norman Mailer in 1955, the Voice spent the next six decades establishing itself as the archetype for alt-weeklies in cities across the country, picking up a trio of Pulitzer Prizes along the way.
In 1996, the Voice shifted from a paid-subscription format to free distribution supported by advertising — chiefly, ads for escort services and massage parlors — but has struggled in recent years to reconcile that model with a changing, increasingly digital media environment.
The Voice most recently changed hands in 2015, when it was purchased by Reading Eagle CEO Peter Barbey, who then increased print distribution by 50 percent to 120,000, according to parent company Village Voice Media.
“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,” said Barbey in a statement. “Clearly a lot has changed since then. That business has moved online—and so has the Voice’s audience.”
The statement notes that The Village Voice‘s web traffic was up 47 percent month-over-month in July.
Asked when the change is effective, a spokesperson responded, “The Village Voice is weighing a number of scenarios with a firm timeline to be released in due time.”
This is a developing story.