Goodbye, Good Old Days: Wayne Barrett, Tom Robbins Out at Village Voice (Updated)

In your disputatious Tuesday media column: the end of an era at the Village Voice, a settlement in San Francisco's alt-weekly war, 2010's final journalist death toll, and Judy Miller is still talking.

  • Legendary Village Voice columnist Wayne Barrett, who's been harassing New York politicians for more than 30 years, has been canned. (Though he already has a new job at The Nation Institute). Here's his farewell column, in which he politely writes, "I am 65 and a half now, and it is time for something new. If I didn't see that, others did." Also leaving the Voice, at the end of January: fellow legendary writer Tom Robbins. Jeremy Peters said that Robbins "quit in protest" upon Barrett's firing. But we spoke to VV editor Tony Ortega, who called that assertion "bullshit." He said that Robbins, a union steward, had known about the Barrett decision as soon as it was made, and had simply decided to leave the paper along with the man who brought him in, with "no hard feelings." Ortega said that the Voice will be looking for a new Metro columnist to replace Robbins. (We've emailed Robbins, and we'll update with his response). Barrett and Robbins are both great reporters. But these days, when a single photo of a cat dressed as Lady Gaga can get more hits than a months-long political corruption investigation, great reporters have less job security than ever, unless they have a very photogenic cat.

    Update: Here's Tony Ortega's note to his staff today:

    "Wayne Barrett left the Voice last week , and I wanted him to break the news himself so that the focus could be on his illustrious history with us. He mentioned that Tom had decided to leave as well. Tom had broached this subject with me when we were working out the details of Wayne 's departure last month. I appointed Tom to be our metro columnist three years ago , so I was disappointed that he wanted to leave , but I agreed. We worked out his departure date , January 31. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Tom , and there were no hard feelings between us about his leaving. The characterization by the Times - that Tom "quit in protest" is flat-out wrong.

    I will be looking for a new metro columnist in the coming weeks to replace Tom. Camille Dodero , meanwhile , has left the web editor position and will be contributing more cover stories , including this week's issue. Zach Baron moves into the web editor position , and Joe Coscarelli has started at the Runnin' Scared blog , replacing Foster Kamer , who left last month."

  • After more than six years of feuding and a huge lawsuit, the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly have reached a "mutually acceptable" settlement in the antitrust case that led to a judgment of $21 million against SF Weekly. The terms of the settlement were not released. But presumably it's something that would not immediately bankrupt the Weekly, which would be, you know, counterproductive.

  • In 2010, 44 journalists were killed worldwide, according to CPJ's annual tally. The deadliest nation for journalists was Pakistan, followed by Iraq, Honduras, Mexico, and Indonesia.

  • Bad journalist "Judy" Miller, who yesterday called Julian Assange a "bad journalist," gives Michael Calderone a fuller explanation of her argument here. How about we all agree that Julian Assange is just a dude who puts raw information on the internet, not a "journalist?" Or, if we define him as a journalist, we all agree that we've stretched the definition in such a way that arguing about it further is a moot point? That seems easiest.
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