The Voice Vs. Carmine DeSapio


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

February 18, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 17

Voice Wins Top Award

[From a speech delivered by Edwin Fancher, publisher of The Village Voice, on the occasion of receiving from the New York Press Association its award to this newspaper of the 1958 First Prize for General Excellence among all tabloid weeklies in the state.]

…We started with the idea of publishing a vital paper devoted to significant local news, plus coverage of cultural and artistic events so characteristic of our area, and columns and cartoons of a high level. We had few partisan political prejudices. Indeed we knew that we had a lot to learn about politics and were prepared to take our time in learning it. On the other hand, there were certain definite things that we knew we did not want to do with our newspaper, one of which was not to load it down with the self-serving publicity of local politicians of whatever party, or with weekly blurbs and photos celebrating the honors and awards forever being passed back and forth between them.

Our new venture met with immediate favorable response from the residents of the community in terms of circulation—now 11,500 paid, largest community weekly in Manhattan—and in advertising, from most of the small shopkeepers. But from the beginning we were aware of an undertow of resentment from certain political elements in the community who showed consternation over the emergence of a new independent voice. Virtually from the outset they were battering at our doors and clamoring over our phones in an attempt to twist us to partisanship in their favor, while at the same time we discovered an active, if underground, campaign to discredit our paper and undermine our local advertising.

Over the years since 1955 our refusal to play the role of house organ to the vested political interests of Greenwich Village has grown more and more intolerable to them. And if we were innocent when we started, it was there gentlemen who sent us to school—educated us, but not quite free of charge. We began to learn the facts of life, and we began to become politically oriented. Indeed, we have just urged the defeat of Mr. DeSapio in the next primary election by an independent candidate as yet unchosen.

And if, over the years, we knew but could not prove that these vested political interests were trying to kill off our advertising, we now know it and can prove it.

Only a few weeks ago a Democratic State Committeeman who is an important member of Mr. DeSapio’s local club, the Tamawa Club in Greenwich Village, was so arrogant as to declare before two witnesses known to us that he had successfully killed off a number of our accounts and was going to keep right on killing off as many as he could.

We who have lived with Mr. DeSapio and his organization are forced to wonder what he regards as the trust and responsibility that the press has forgotten. Whatever he means, it is hard for us to believe he means a truly independent press.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]