Voice Media Group Sells the Village Voice

Village Voice Paper
Jerry Arcieri/Landov

The cover of an issue of the "VIllage Voice."

The Village Voice has a new owner. Voice Media Group, which acquired its namesake alt-weekly in early 2013 but has spent the past year shedding some of its other properties, announced on Monday it is selling its flagship paper to Peter D. Barbey, a Pennsylvania-based publisher and CEO of Reading Eagle Company.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Barbey is purchasing the 60-year-old paper through his investment company, Black Walnut Holdings, and will keep it separate from Reading Eagle, which publishes a newspaper of the same name, among other properties. VMG will keep running The Voice through February, and after that will continue to sell ads for the newspaper and offer other services to advertisers through its V Digital Services subsidiary.

"During a time of great challenges and great opportunities in the industry, we're thrilled that we've found an experienced journalist and operator with such considerable resources to take the reins at the Voice," said VMG CEO Scott Tobias. "We truly love and respect our staff at the Voice, and it's fulfilling to know they'll be in good hands."

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In a statement, Barbey called his new property -- co-founded by Norman Mailer -- "one of America’s great newspaper stories" and "belongs to New York much more than it belongs to any individual owner." He also vowed to expand resources for both print and digital so editors can place more attention on content and attract additional top writers.

"One of the biggest problems in media today is lack of attention to content," he told the New York Times, which mentioned that Barbey is apartment hunting in NYC. "Many publications have stripped their content."

Barbey has not revealed how much he’ll spend on revamping The Voice, but it's clear he has the resources to do it. Forbes ranked the Barbeys at No. 48 on a list of America’s wealthiest families.

The move is the latest in a series of sell-offs at VMG. In January, the company hired Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger-and-acquisition firm. Since then, VMG has sold off two of its papers: City Pages in Minneapolis (to Star Tribune Media) and the Riverfront Times in St. Louis (to Euclid Media). Its remaining publications include the LA Weekly, the Dallas Observer, Denver Westword, Houston Press, Miami New TimesPhoenix New Times and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.


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