New York's Village Voice newspaper, the O.G. alternative weekly newspaper, announced today that it will cease print publication. The paper, founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer, switched to a free print format in 1996, and was purchased in 2015 by apparel fortune heir Peter Barbey. In a statement announcing the end of its weekly print edition, the Voice says it "plans to maintain its iconic progressive brand with its digital platform and a variety of new editorial initiatives." Among countless others, writers like Colson Whitehead, Robert Christgau, Jack Newfield, and Wayne Barrett all embarked on their careers through contributions to the Voice.
The end of the Voice's print era comes somewhat belatedly after the rise of Craigslist decimated the world of print classified advertising (a longtime revenue generator for alt-weeklies), but is on trend with the continuing downtick in print journalism, marked dramatically by the recent announcement of the closing of Baltimore's City Paper. The Voice's commitment to digital, however, suggests there may be signs of life in the publication's future. On a similar note, the Mercury's sister paper in Seattle, The Stranger, announced last month that it would be starting a new biweekly print format with a redirected emphasis on web content. The Voice, for their part, suggest that they'll make use of other media: "from words to pictures to podcasts, videos, and even other forms of print publishing," suggesting that special editions or supplements of the paper could potentially still make their way to physical newsstands.
It's appropriate to be sad over the lost of a cultural signifier like the Voice's weekly presence on New York City street corners, but the future of journalism—in all its formats—continues to evolve and shift its shape virtually daily. Trees, for one, can breathe a sigh of relief. Opponents of paper cuts and newsprint-y fingerprints, too, can view this as good news. Whether the Voice's readership will find a similar silver lining remains to be seen. For more context, and some interesting history, check out this piece the New Yorker wrote back in 2009 about the Voice's rise and influence.