Sunday, June 8, 2008

The `Village Voice' Alternative Media Monopoly's Hidden History--Part 5

(Most of the following article originally appeared in the October 9, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian Weekly. See below for parts 1-4.)

Ironically, despite the big profits their newspaper took in during the Viet Nam War Era by marketing counter-cultural ideas and descriptions of street protests to its new antiwar readers, neither then-Voice co-owner Wolf nor then-Voice co-owner Fancher “ever marched in a civil rights or antiwar demonstration,” according to The Great American Newspaper. The then-Voice owners were also apparently not very eager to recruit many African-American editors or staff writers during the 1960s era of African-American mass rebellion. As Kevin McAuliffe noted in The Great American Newspaper, “for all the public hand-wringing over White Guilt and Black Power” the Voice “never had a black editor or a black staff writer” during the 1960s.

To attempt to give people in Manhattan a genuinely alternative newspaper during the Viet Nam War Era, Walter Bowart and Allen Katzman scraped together about $5,000 in 1960s money to launch the now-defunct East Village Other (EVO) alternative newspaper from an office at 10th Street and Avenue A, on October 1, 1965. Within three months, its paid-circulation had increased from 2,500 to 7,000 and it was being published on a regular bi-weekly basis.

The Voice apparently felt a competing Lower East Side-based alternative newspaper threatened its profitability. When Voice publisher Fancher heard that Voice news editor-turned-Voice columnist John Wilcock was “going around the Village telling people that the Voice was a dying newspaper and that EVO was `the voice of the future,’ he called him into his office and told him he could not stay at the Voice,” according to The Great American Newspaper. But despite the Voice’s attempt to discourage alternative journalists in the neighborhood from offering Manhattan readers a genuinely counter-cultural newspaper to choose from every other week, by 1969 the East Village Other’s paid circulation had jumped to 45,000 and it looked like its paid circulation would eventually exceed the Voice’s paid circulation.

(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 10/9/96)

Next: The Village Voice Alternative Media Monopoly’s Hidden History—Part 6

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