Louisiana's Independent Weekly reports that in 2008 it had to lay off one employee and that it recently instituted "a single digit, company-wide salary cut." The Nashville Scene says it is eliminating its books section, as well as News of the Weird and the New York Times crossword. Boise Weekly's publisher says that even though the "last quarter of 2008 was very disappointing ... it might have been the best we will see for awhile." Meanwhile, the Chicago Reader says goodbye to two of its departing editorial staffers, and Nat Hentoff talks to the New York Times about his plans post-Voice.
In this week's Village Voice, the recently laid off Nat Hentoff bids farewell with a column that touches on his time at the paper and his journalistic influences. "I came here in 1958 because I wanted a place where I could writer freely on anything I cared about," he writes. "There was no pay at first, but the Voice turned out to be a hell of a resounding forum." On the other coast, LA Weekly veteran Marc Cooper, who was let go a few months ago, has posted what he's calling an "autopsy" of the Weekly on his website. Cooper, who first joined the paper in 1982, pulls no punches in his nearly-6,000-word piece, but the gist can be found in one of the closing paragraphs. "If there was ever a time for an aggressive, irreverent, credible metro weekly to take on the [Los Angeles Times], it's right now, right here," he writes. "That requires investment, not layoffs."
The Voice parted ways yesterday with Hentoff, who has worked for the paper since 1958, as well as Lynn Yaeger, who has been there for about 30 years, and staff writer Chloe Hilliard. The 83-year-old Hentoff tells the New York Times that he will keep writing his weekly column for the United Media syndicate and contributing pieces to The Wall Street Journal. Layoffs are also being reported at one of the Voice's sister papers on the other coast. Mediabistro reports that OC Weekly has laid off managing editor Rich Kane, clubs editor Nate Jackson and staff writer Vickie Chang.
"Hentoff began writing a regular media and civil rights column for the Voice on January 8, 1958, and is still going strong," according to a press release. To celebrate, the paper is running two special features on the columnist. In the first, Allen Barra remembers when, in the midst of "a typical internecine squabble" in the late '80s, he took a cheap shot at Hentoff via a letter to the editor. Hentoff's response was to give Barra a Pee Wee Russell album with a note saying: "Listen to this. It might clear your head out." Barra writes: "Instead of jumping into the argument with pettiness and personal acrimony, he sought to create a dialogue with reason, tolerance, and jazz. What can you do with a guy like that?" In a companion feature, the Voice is running nearly 6,000 words of "Nat Hentoff's Greatest Hits," excerpts from half a century of columns.
Nat Hentoff (pictured) last week joined an august group that includes jazz greats like Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald, when he was awarded a Jazz Master Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. "No writer has been a greater friend to jazz than critic, historian, biographer and anecdotist Nat Hentoff," says the NEA. Hentoff's weekly column in the Voice, where he has written for over 30 years, has also made him one of the nation's most prominent defenders of civil liberties.
Nat Hentoff, columnist for The Village Voice, is on a leaked list of Pulitzer Prize finalists making the rounds of American newsrooms, E&P's Joe Strupp reports. No one's vouching for the list's authenticity publicly, but it's making for some tense journalists between now and April 8, when the winners are announced.