Village Voice owner brings back Will Bourne as editor-in-chief

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Newspaper racks for the Village Voice. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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The Village Voice has a new editor in chief.

New owner Peter Barbey is bringing back Will Bourne, who'd served briefly as editor in 2013, to replace Tom Finkel, who had served as editor since July 2013 after Bourne resigned amid a clash with the owners at the time.

Bourne, who was traveling Tuesday and was therefore unavailable to comment, will start on Wednesday; Finkel was informed of the change Tuesday morning.

"It's not about Tom. Tom's a terrific guy," said Barbey in a brief phone conversation. "It's about vision. Will and I very much have similar visions."

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Barbey said that after he bought the Voice from Voice Media Group in October, Bourne reached out to him and the two hit it off. "He impressed me with his enthusiasm, his capability and his vision," said Barbey. Asked to elaborate on that vision, he said: "More to come."

Bourne, who's held top positions at Inc. and Fast Company and most recently served as executive editor at Audubon magazine, was named editor of the Voice in late 2012 as it was struggling to find its footing after years of masthead turnover, cost-cutting and a diminution of influence in New York, where the free weekly was co-founded in 1955 by Norman Mailer.

Bourne resigned the following May after just six months on the job because, he said at the time, the paper's management demanded staff layoffs after he had been assured there would be no further cuts.

Now Barbey and Bourne face the challenge of reshaping the Voice both editorially and as a business. Barbey, who owns a small but historic newspaper in Pennsylvania, has deep pockets—his family is worth $6.1 billion, according to Forbes—and has said he plans to invest in the publication. He has taken a few early steps like increasing circulation and creating a quarterly style supplement to attract high-end advertisers.

Reached by phone, Finkel said he'd worked with "a ton of talented people through a lot of difficult times" at the Voice.

"I think the paper's getting better and I'm happy that it's gonna live on proudly," he said. "It's Peter who bought the Village Voice, and it's Peter who will decide how to run it."