'Village Voice' fires Michael Musto in yet another round of cuts
Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has the scoop on the latest bloodbath at The Village Voice, which has slowly but steadily been shedding veteran staffers since it was acquired in 2005 by the Phoenix-based New Times Media turned Village Voice Media turned Voice Media Group.
Today's news involves Michael Musto, the last of the big-name, glory-days Voice writers who was still at the paper. He's been let go, along with longtime food critic Robert Sietsema and theater critic Michael Feingold.
Their exits come just one week after the Voice's newest editor in chief, Will Bourne, walked out after less than six months on the job over demands from management for further cuts to the weekly's already skeletal staff.
I managed to get Musto on the phone for a hot second, but he asked to call me back. (His cell must be blowing up right now.)
Musto, who has been with the Voice since 1984, remains one of New York's best-known gossip columnists.
He told Gawker: "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."
UPDATE: A representative for Voice Media Group just sent along the following press release on today's "restructuring" at the Voice:
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.
As of next week, veteran gossip columnist Michael Musto and longtime theater critic Michael Feingold will no longer be staffers at the Voice. Voice Media Group recognizes their many achievements and honors over the years, and thanks them for their loyalty, their professionalism, and the iconic role they have played in establishing the Voice as a cultural touchstone in New York City. Feingold, named a Pulitzer finalist for criticism in 2009, has been invited to continue his association with the Voice by serving as chairman of the annual Obie Awards.
We’re also pleased to announce that two new positions have been added to the Voice writing staff, which already includes 2013 James Beard Award winner Tejal Rao, along with recently hired principal film writer Stephanie Zacharek and staff writer Sydney Brownstone.
Writer/editor Laura Shunk has joined the team as a part-time staff writer tasked with overseeing an expansion and reinvigoration of the Voice’s food and restaurant coverage, both on the blog and in print. As part of that restructuring, freelance food writer Robert Sietsema will no longer serve as a regular weekly contributor. However, the Voice 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.
VMG will support the editorial staff throughout this process, and believes these changes will allow the Village Voice to grow and to continue its commitment to progressive journalism.
Some reactions on Twitter:
Re Village Voice: The drawn-out death is wrenching. Just rip the band aid off, it'll save everyone a lot of heartache gawker.com/bloodbath-day-…— Doree Shafrir (@doreeshafrir) May 17, 2013
Michael Musto was the only reason I read the Voice.— Frank DiGiacomo (@frankdigiacomo) May 17, 2013
the real end of the 'era', Michael Musto let go from the Village Voice!— Eric Telefox(@telefox) May 17, 2013
Translated: There is no more Village Voice. @romenesko Village Voice reportedly has fired veteran columnist Michael Musto.— j.g.b. (@joelbreuklander) May 17, 2013
There is no Village Voice without @mikeymusto. Period.— Mandy Stadtmiller (@mandystadt) May 17, 2013
Losing Musto is a shame, losing Sietsema is a crime. It's a bad day to be a Village Voice reader.— adam rathe (@adam_rathe) May 17, 2013
Michael Musto said something great to me: "It's like when your mother has Alzheimer's. You lost her a long time ago." Today she died.— Camille Dodero (@camilledodero) May 17, 2013
And in that instant the Village Voice renders itself irrelevant— RonMwangaguhung (@RonMwangaguhung) May 17, 2013