[sixties-l] Its Not Norman Mailers Village Voice Anymore (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Mon Dec 16 2002 - 22:35:54 EST

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 11:47:03 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Its Not Norman Mailers Village Voice Anymore

    It's Not Norman Mailer's Village Voice Anymore


    Muckraking And Hell-Raising: The Glory Days Of The
    Underground Press Are Gone

    by Michael Ryan, who has written, directed and produced films, television, and
    theater, published several books of humor and satire, and worked as a
    Washington and foreign correspondent and editor for major magazines.

    I used to make $50 a weekin weeks when my work
    was actually publishedworking for what was known as
    an underground weekly. It was called The Real Paper,
    and it was produced in a rickety old wood frame building
    in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    The money was lousy, the work was hard, there were no
    health benefits (I was a free-lancer) but there was an
    enormous sense of freedom of speech. To make a sad
    story short, the paper crashed, and was acquired by a far
    more profit-oriented competitor. I started to worry about
    the future of the alternative press. Now, I know the worry
    was well-placed.
    I'm not old enough to remember the glory days of the
    underground press, when people like Dan Wolf and
    Norman Mailer founded The Village Voice as the only way
    of reporting on real people's real lives at a time when
    mainstream papers were buttoned-down white men's
    clubs dedicated to great events and huge institutions. But
    if I ever doubted that those days were over, the proof has
    finally emerged.
    In a rare act of cooperation, a team of prosecutors from
    John Ashcroft's Justice Department, California's Attorney
    General's office, and the Los Angeles County District
    Attorney's office have opened a full frontal attack on two of
    the biggest "alternative" newspaper publishers in the
    country: Village Voice Media and New Times Media.
    The lawyers have been issuing subpoenas to executives
    of the two companies and compelling them to testifty
    under oath as the prelude for what seems likely to be a
    huge anti-trust suit, alleging that they conspired to carve
    up geographic territories in much the same way that the
    Five Mafia Families split their dominions in the 1950s.
    It's not Norman Mailer's Village Voice anymore.
    According to The Los Angeles Times, which broke the
    story, New Times Media shut down its New Times Los
    Angeles in exchange for an $8 million payoff from Village
    Voice Media. In return, Village Voice received a smaller
    payment from New Times to close down the Cleveland
    Free Times. That left each "alternative" publisher
    essentially in control of the "underground" press of its
    respective city.
    If you've been reading the "alternative" press lately, you
    know that there's significantly less muckraking and
    hell-raising than there was a few decades ago, when
    underground weeklies got judges impeached, exposed
    sweetheart deals, threw the spotlight on rotten landlords,
    and genuinely shook up a culture of smugness and
    Nowadays, these weeklies seem to exist mainly as a
    vehicle to advertise high-end audio and computer
    equipment, health clubs, and sex toysboth mechanical
    and human. It was probably inevitable that, as
    multi-million dollar businesses, they would have come
    under the scrutiny of law enforcement just as Enron and
    WorldCom have. It's a pity the story has been so
    underreported until now.
    If only we had an underground press to dig for it.

    This is Michael Ryan for TomPaine.com.

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