The end of an era

In case you missed it, my work responsibilities at my day job just got a whole lot lighter on Friday, as the Village Voice ownership announced that it will no longer be running new content, effective immediately.

This should mean I’ll have more time in the mornings to devote to scanning the globe for stadium and arena news, so if you’ve been irked by this site’s increasing tendency to leave lots of news for the Friday roundups, that tendency should begin to wane soon. (Though I kind of feel like people like the Friday roundups best, so maybe I shouldn’t try too hard to cover all news as soon as it happens.) That good news, though, is outweighed by the greater bad news of another still-vital news outlet disappearing from the world, with no indication that it’s soon going to be replaced.

Unless you count a single article in 1989, my time as a regular Voice contributor — just under 300 articles, according to the Voice’s internal database, though there are at least several dozen early pieces that aren’t included there — began with stadiums: Yankee Stadium in particular, whose 1998 falling-beam incident Joanna Cagan and I covered for the paper’s then-singular sports section, The Score. Later renamed Jockbeat, the Voice sports page survived until 2003; its last-ever feature was a report by me on a developer named Bruce Ratner who had a crazy idea to get New York to give him prime Brooklyn property to build an arena for the New Jersey Nets. I kept on covering sports subsidies for the paper’s website, though, along with writing about myriad subjects for the print edition, including Coney Island redevelopment and Michael Bloomberg’s homeless policies and the perils of standardized testing and climate change and how to not be an asshole about being a gentrifier. (You can find the full list of my articles here; Voice management has said it intends to keep the archives up indefinitely.)

I kept on writing for the Voice across three decades and ten editors-in-chief in part because they paid well and had a good reach — there was a time not that long ago when more than 100,000 New Yorkers would pick up the paper from its ubiquitous red boxes — but mostly because of the kind of journalism it stood for. Snarky long before Gawker, devoted to investigative reporting would cover what the city’s dailies ignored, and always with an eye toward encouraging writers to find new ways of honing their craft, it was both a writers’ paper and a readers’ one; picking up the Voice always felt to me like visiting with the coolest, smartest kids in town, and actually working with the Voice was like being allowed into their club. I learned volumes in both roles, and was forever changed by the experience; as one long-ago Voice writer mourned on Facebook on Friday: “I am still writing for the Voice. I think most of the people who wrote for the Voice are still writing for the Voice.”

There are other news outlets out there trying to pick up the Voice gauntlet — or at least a finger or two of it — but none will be able to fully replace it, certainly not in this current era of feeble revenues and journalistic retrenchment. If there’s a publication out there that you cherish, please consider throwing some money its way, whether as a subscription or just a donation; while it’s great that the internet allows me to bring daily stadium news to you without having to own a printing press, this site wouldn’t exist without the work of all the reporters out there getting paid to report on the news — sometimes better than others, but it’s all way, way better than nothing. If too many more of these outlets disappear, as I told the New York Times on Friday, it makes me fear for what’s left of our democracy.