Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Business of Newspapers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Business of Newspapers

Article excerpt

It takes three years to build a Village

Three years after its switch from paid to free distribution, New York's Village Voice is proclaiming the move a success.

The weekly alternative's mostly free distribution is 250,000, almost double the pre-switch level. Ad sales have increased between 10% and 13% in each of the last three years, according to Publisher David Schneiderman.

Announcement of the switch prompted industry insiders to wonder if the Voice was floundering and whether it could make it on advertising revenue alone, speculation that Schneiderman, in a letter to readers in the April 21 issue, took delight in defying.

"Some gleefully said we were on life support," Schneiderman wrote. " The Village Voice has never been popular with the elites of this city. The Voice took them on and relentlessly exposed their venality."

But when the Voice, in an ad campaign, called itself the largest circulation newspaper in Manhattan, competitors groused.

The ad shows a bar graph that puts the Voice at the top in Manhattan circulation among New York City dailies, trumping The New York Times, Daily News, and New York Post. The Voice's Manhattan-only distribution is about 216,000.

The New York Times ran the ad April 19, but the Post turned it down. (The Voice didn't go to the Daily News.) The ad has also run in the New York Observer, New York magazine, and several trade magazines.

Steven Sackler, a New York media buyer who placed the ads for the Voice, says the Post told him it wouldn't run the ad because it showed the tabloid trailing in circulation and because the ad copy mixes free distribution and paid circulation numbers. …

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