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Bloodletting At The Village Voice Continues

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday May 17, 2013
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Last week it was revealed that editor-in-chief Will Bourne (just hired in November), and deputy Jessica Lustig, (a newbie since January) both walked out of the weekly’s office in reaction to a forced lay-off of more staffers.

Today Gawker reported that further cuts took place today, including long-standing Voice staffers Michael Musto, Robert Siestsema and Michael Feingold.

"We hear that executives from the Voice’s parent company flew in for today’s massacre," Gawker wrote. "Michael Musto, the Voice’s nightlife columnist and most high profile remaining staffer, has been let go, as was rumored last week. (There had apparently been some talk of Musto’s column hanging on in some form, but that does not seem to have worked out.) Also let go, sources tell us, was Robert Sietsema, the Voice’s longtime food critic, and Michael Feingold, the paper’s theater critic. Feingold was scheduled to host the Obie Awards for the Voice next week. That just makes the timing that much more shocking."

Later Musto posted that "So many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities). I’ll update you on all my new beginnings. My brand will be feistier than ever."


According to an item on New York Magazine’s website, Bourne was asked to cut "five positions out of the twenty that remain and somehow still make a publication. ’When I was brought in here, I was explicitly told that the bloodletting had come to an end,’ Bourne explained to the New York Times. ’I have enormous respect for the staff here and the work they have been doing and I am not going to preside over further layoffs.’

"When Bourne took the position, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, who almost took the editor spot at the Voice himself at one point, told us, ’The only way to go is to appreciate the resources you still have, not bemoan the resources that the paper once had.’ But what the Voice still has, at this point, continues to shrink, even after the paper had layoffs, lost its editor, and was spun off last year.

"At the moment, it’s unclear whether the company will proceed with the planned cuts after losing what were presumably two substantial salaries. Either way, according to one of the few remaining writers there, ’Entire Voice editorial staff drinking at McSorrley’s - we don’t usually drink this early in the day!’

Voice Media Group, the paper’s parent company, released a statement: "Voice Media Group is making staffing changes at the Village Voice. The net effect of these changes will be to slightly reduce the number of editorial employees at the publication-by less than one full-time position-and better align the Voice with the long-term business and editorial goals of the company. This restructuring will allow the Voice to continue offering superior content and products to its New York audience - specifically film, music, restaurant, and breaking news easily accessible across both print and digital platforms - while also ensuring the sustainability of the publication."

In addition to announcing the layoffs of its prominent staff members, the release also said it is "actively soliciting new freelance writers interested in reporting on New York’s dynamic dining culture."

"Additionally, management is looking to hire a new, full-time staff writer to join the Voice’s exceptional reporting team. We hope to make an announcement about that hire shortly."

Click here to read the full release.


Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.

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