James Ridgeway was a Village Voice fixture for decades, and he was fired by the paper's management last week. What did the staff do? They resorted to that great and powerful instrument of disgruntled lefties everywhere: the dreaded petition. Some 19 staffers — "most of the VV non-management editorial staff," we're told, including heavies like J. Hoberman, Nat Hentoff, and Michael Musto — signed the letter of support for Ridgeway, which "call[ed] on Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and Chairman and CEO Jim Larkin to reverse his discharge." (They didn't.) The signatories also asked that the letter be published in this week's paper. (It wasn't.) There's one success, though: After reading the letter, Robert Gottlieb has announced he won't become the paper's editor. Not that he was in the running, but still.
The quixotic letter is after the jump.
The following letter was read aloud at the Village Voice's staff meeting on Monday. It is signed by most of the VV non-management editorial staff, who asked that it be published in today's paper. It was not published.
For 30 years, James Ridgeway has, in his person, his politics, and his writing, defined what makes the Voice a special publication.
From Three Mile Island to 9-11, Ridgeway has provided some of the nation's most incisive and insightful coverage of government misfeasance and malfeasance. He was one of the first journalists in America to spotlight the threat posed by a resurgent racist and neo-Nazi movement, an issue he hammered away at in the pages of the Voice years before anyone ever heard of Ruby Ridge or Timothy McVeigh. His reports on escalating environmental abuses exposed corporate law-breakers and bureaucratic indifference.
Ridgeway's writings on conflicts from Bosnia to Baghdad to Haiti have always provided the otherwise unreported flip-side of the world according to the mainstream media, in short reporting that jibes precisely with the exact mission of the Voice. Over the past few years, Ridgeway expanded onto the Web, filing regular nuggets of breaking news, and even posting video reports on the 2004 elections.
In light of this distinguished track record, the decision last week by the Voice's new ownership to terminate Ridgeway is shameful. It also sends a terrible message as to the sort of coverage that the new ownership portends. We call on Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and Chairman and CEO Jim Larkin to reverse his discharge.