From: David Schneiderman
Date: October 23, 2005
Sometimes, rumors turn out to be true.
Village Voice Media and New Times have agreed to a merger that will create
an alternative media company with award-winning newspapers in seventeen
cities in every region of the country. The new company will be called
Village Voice Media. This is an exciting combination of two publishers with
well-deserved reputations for fierce and independent journalism, strong
management and immensely talented staffs.
New Times CEO Jim Larkin will be CEO of the new company and Michael Lacey
will be Executive Editor. I will be President of the Internet division and
will continue to serve on the Board of Directors. Our present investors will
maintain their equity in the new entity and will sit on the reconstituted
Over the last few years, I have come to know Jim and Michael, and I am
confident that they will bring to Village Voice Media the same skill, passion and commitment to journalistic excellence that they have exhibited in the years they have built and run New Times. They take pride in their newspapers and staffs, and they invest in and support their journalists in both word and deed. Newspapers must constantly be looking for new and better ways to engage readers and serve advertisers. New Times will bring fresh
approaches to our business and they will also learn from our successes.
Over twenty years ago when I was editor of the Voice, Rupert Murdoch was the improbable owner. It would be an understatement to say that we did not see eye to eye on most issues. He once said to me that he could not understand
how a bunch of Communists could manage a paper so well. I responded that we had concluded that if we did a good job, we might live to publish another
issue of the Voice. Ironically, when Leonard Stern acquired the Voice from
Murdoch in 1985, many of us including me, viewed this with trepidation.
Stern, however, turned out to be a great owner. I offer this history to
acknowledge that though impending change creates uncertainty, more often
than not it leads to positive results. In this case, I sincerely believe
that you will come to see this merger as an opportunity to grow
professionally as part of an even more dynamic company.
As for me, I am excited about the prospect of leading the effort to build a
robust and successful web platform for the new company. The Internet will be
a critical part of our future and it is essential that we use the talent and
resources of the combined company to become important players in that world.
My immediate goal is to grow our online audience by utilizing our existing
resources, and to break new ground in delivering fresh and compelling
content to an ever-expanding audience in any way they wish to receive it.
I am sure most of you are aware of the bizarre charge that this merger will
mark the end of alternative journalism. Nothing could be farther from the
truth. Both Village Voice Media and New Times have earned a reputation for
producing first-rate journalism. Both companies support and encourage their
journalists to expose corruption, hypocrisy and incompetence wherever they find it. It defies logic to assert that those traditions will be undermined
or abandoned as a result of this merger. In fact, I fully expect them to be
The New Times corporate team will have operational oversight of the papers,
but that will not happen for a few months. In the meantime, our corporate
group, Nick DiCarlo, Susan Meisel, Matt Brennan and Peter Shin will continue
working through the transition. They have done extraordinary work for VVM
and have been key contributors to the success of the company.
This transaction is subject to review by the Department of Justice, which
could take some months to complete. So during this time, it will be business
as usual. I expect you will have questions about the future. I will be in
constant touch with the publishers and editors and will try to answer as
many of your questions as possible. Now that the rumors have been put to
rest, I expect us to get back to publishing great newspapers with a hopeful
eye on an exciting future.