Gossip and Free Speech

Greek Papers Speak a Familiar Language

Privately held by investment bankers, VVM is making a profit, though not as much as the owners would like. According to one source, the business side presented editor in chief Donald Forst with a mandate—cut X amount from the editorial budget—which could only be achieved by cutting salaries. The layoffs came days after the resignations of executive editor Karen Cook and senior editor Lenora Todaro, who edited the books section. Staff writer Chisun Lee is taking a nine-month leave to pursue a Knight Fellowship at Yale Law School.

Sadness and paranoia now rule, and a rumor is circulating that more cuts will follow. Eighty-five members of Village Voice Local 2110 (out of about 115) signed a letter to management declaring "our profound outrage and disgust" at the layoffs, rejecting the claim that they were "economically necessary" and stating, "We believe the motive here is greed on the part of the paper's owners, a greed that is apparently willing to sacrifice editorial quality in pursuit of profits."

What's more, many staffers dislike the redesign that debuts in next week's issue. All pieces in the back of the book will be shortened, including the lead reviews. Champions hope the new layout will appeal to younger readers by offering more "points of entry," while detractors say it will trivialize the content.

Asked to comment, Forst said, "I've had easier decisions to make."


cc@villagevoice.com

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