We dropped in on The Village Voice just now to take a gander at how they are faring after yet another major shift at the top of the masthead. The editor-in-chief appointed to replace the late and unlamented Tony Ortega has resigned, along with another senior editor, after promises to make no further cuts to staff were swiftly broken, and a new team has been in place for several weeks now. And there have been some changes to the Voice itself.
Most striking is the absence of advertising. I do not mean how few ads there are — I mean absence. The ad space is filled now with ads for the Voice and its features itself. This is not generally a good sign.
The editorial tone seems to have softened considerably as well. The strident, if often ridiculous, headlines and the shrill tones of former years have been replaced with titles that seem more at home in the Lady’s Home Journal: “Morgan’s Will Bring Texas-Style Cue to Prospect Heights,” “Jobs Boom Narrative In Bronx and Brooklyn Doesn’t Tell Full Story,” “Is Detroit America’s Most Rock n’ Roll City?” The content displays a heavy emphasis now on food/dining and entertainment (prime places to plug advertisers) and none of the lunatic posturing that characterized the Larkin/Lacey/Ortega era.
What next? Recipes? Self-help tips? Healthy eating columns? “Six Ways To Tone Your Upper Arms?
It almost makes one nostalgic. The former Voice was ugly, warped and sophomoric. It deserved the near-oblivion it now occupies. But at least there was always a circus freak-show kind of attraction to it. Now you almost see the cobwebs starting to form on the webpages.
It’s no secret to our readers that we wished the Voice ill when Larkin, Lacey and Ortega were at its helm. But this slow strangulation is displeasing even to us. There is more than a touch of the grotesque to it. We had hoped for an epic flameout — a kind of clap-of-doom cataclysm that would bring both closure and catharsis to the whole sorry affair.
It now seems clear that this is not to be. The Voice is dying, true — not with a roar, but with a whisper.