Reaction to the Voice/New Times Merger

We quizzed a handful of experts and some Village Voice alum about their reaction to today's news of the merger between the Voice's parent company and New Times Media (See previous post.) Their verdict wasn't very positive.

Kit Rachlis, former executive editor of the Voice, former editor of L.A. Weekly, and now editor-in-chief of Los Angeles magazine: "This is not a good thing for the alternative press. It's not a good thing that a single company will own a greater percentage of alternative weeklies" than any mainstream company's share of the daily newspaper universe. "The alternative press thought this was bad for daily papers, I don't know why it thinks it's good for itself."

Alexander Cockburn, former Voice staffer and now editor of Counterpunch: "It's sort of contrary to everything the Voice first stood for when it was founded in the 50's....It's a mega-media conglomerate. I think it's a bit late in the day for a mega-media conglomerate. I just don't think it's interesting."

Karen Durbin, former Voice editor and now film critic for Elle magazine: "I'm inclined to be pessimistic. There are still a number of very good people at the Voice and I can't help feeling dismayed for them...I do think what's been happening at the paper over the past few years bodes ill for the future. They're just slicing and dicing like crazy."

Jonathan Larsen, former Voice editor, had a more upbeat take in this email: "I think this will be good for all concerned. As both a reader and a judge for the Oakes Award for enviromental reporting, I have run across a lot of excellent New Times stories in the last decade. I think the company will bring fresh energy to the Voice, which is looking as if it could use some."

Ben Bagdikian, former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and author of The Media Monopoly: "This is kind of a rapid closure of the alternative papers." The Voice has "been bought by people who are really making a conglomerate of the alternatives. They are no longer really an alternative voice in the media...I think that the Village Voice, which has gone through some previous transformations, now joins that kind of conglomeration."
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