‘Buzz is Coming Back’ for the Village Voice

At $20,000, it was funny. At a million, it’s embarrassing, and it’s sad. Because in no way will I ever – or at least from where I sit, in the foreseeable future – be able to justify that kind of fiscal cost to the Village Voice . . .

That’s what Voice staff writer Foster Kamer wrote in May as he came to terms with the fact that one of his blog posts — written just three weeks into his tenure — caused his new employer to lose $1 million in advertising. In case you missed it, what basically happened was this: Kamer made a joke about a media mogul’s dick, said media mogul took umbrage and then proceeded to pull $1 million in advertising from the Voice in retaliation.

Now a six-month veteran at the paper, Kamer may not have recouped the million dollars yet, but thanks in part to his relentless style of blogging, the Village Voice has found its swagger again.

Business Insider reporter (and 2010 AltWeekly Awards judge) Joe Pompeo recently took notice, citing several examples of the Voice‘s recent triumphs, while throwing the obligatory “Who Knew?” jab into the headline:

Over the past few years, it became easy to ignore the Village Voice. No longer.

Recently, the buzz is coming back.

To name a few memorable pieces of late, there was . . .

  • Last week’s compelling cover story that took readers inside the annual Gathering of the Juggalos festival
  • The previous week’s scholarly appraisal of the New York gossip pages
  • The innocent punking of three “Jersey Shore” studs back in June
  • The infamous too-hot banker story
  • And the paper’s investigative NYPD Tapes series
  • GQ recently noted that the Voice is looking “pretty-damned-excellent-these-days.”

    Indeed, the fifty-five year old alt-weekly has been getting plenty of attention lately, due in large part to Voice editor/ringmaster Tony Ortega and his million dollar blogger.

    Kamer, who blogs constantly, is undeniably the most visible — and most entertaining — figure writing for the Village Voice today. His brash, unforgiving, and often hilarious style is exactly what the Voice, and alt-weeklies in general, have been accused of lacking over the past few years.

    To his credit, Ortega stood by his new hire (Fun fact: while at Gawker, Kamer once derided his future boss in a blog post titled “Old Person Blogs Thing Nobody Cares About.”) after the $1-million-dick-joke, penning an open letter in which he commended Kamer for coming up with “a little piece of genius”:

    It’s also precisely what the Village Voice was created to do, and has been doing for more than 50 years. We put into words the things people actually think and say when they are being honest with each other and not talking in that pretend-voice that the dailies and the television people put on. Right? I mean, that is at the core of this foul-mouthed, truth-telling, non-pandering institution.

    That, in a nutshell, describes the Village Voice under Ortega and explains why people are declaring the paper “relevant” again. Or as Kamer put it in a recent post, “For the record, young’uns, this is how you blog: violently and shamelessly.”

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