Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The `Village Voice' Alternative Media Monopoly's Hidden History--Part 1

(Most of the following article originally appeared in the October 9, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian Weekly)

“The Village Voice became not something there because of the need for it, to give a voice to voiceless people, but a prize of booty on the battlefield of venture capitalism, something to be looked at and fought over, put into the portfolio of a corporation, used by one individual on the make after another…As of 1977, it had become part of a super-empire…”

--Kevin McAuliffe in The Great American Newspaper: The Rise and Fall of the `Village Voice’ in 1978

Denver’s “alternative” weekly newspaper, the Denver Westword, may not be publicizing on a regular basis the current efforts of local antiwar activists to protest against the Democratic Party-controlled Congress’s failure to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and impeach Bush and Cheney, by mobilizing antiwar Denver residents to demonstrate outside the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

One reason might be because the Denver Westword is owned by the Phoenix-based Village Voice/New Times “alternative” weekly newspaper chain that also owns the Village Voice, the LA Weekly, the Seattle Weekly, the San Francisco Weekly, the Minneapolis City Pages, the Phoenix New Times, the Dallas Observer, the Orange County Weekly, the Houston Press, the Cleveland Scene, the Nashville Scene, the St. Louis Riverfront Times, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the Miami New Times and the Kansas City Patch. In fact, the free circulation of the “alternative” weekly newspapers which the Denver Westword 's out-of-state parent company owns represents 25 percent of the free weekly circulation of all U.S. “alternative” weekly newspapers.

But prior to the 2005 merger between the Wall Street bankers who had purchased the Village Voice from former Voice owner Leonard Stern for $170 million in 2000 and New Times media company owner Michael Lacey, the Voice was also not controlled by its original owners. For--like current Voice/Westword owner Michael Lacey--the Wall Street bankers, former Voice owner Leonard Stern and former Voice owner Rupert Murdoch did not provide the initial money or initial labor that was needed to launch the Village Voice on October 26, 1955. The Voice was actually started by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer—using money from Mailer’s bank account and from Fancher’s inheritance.

(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 10/9/96)

Next: The Village Voice Alternative Media Monopoly’s Hidden History—Part 2

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