One big name appears among the casualties. Included on the list of five editorial and three art department staffers was Robert Christgau, long considered the dean of music critics. Other arts editors axed were dance editor Elizabeth Zimmer, theater editor Jorge Morales and senior book editor Ed Park.
All four editors, as well as staff writer Darren Reidy, who was dismissed, signed an April 5 letter to company management decrying the corporation's spring firing of venerated investigative reporter James Ridgeway. Another signer, ex-music editor Chuck Eddy, was fired earlier this year.
Interim editor Ward Harkavy told The New York Times last Friday that duties held by senior editors "will be distributed, just as they are at many publications, among current local staff."
The dismissals precede the Sept. 12 arrival of the newspaper's new editor, David Blum, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and writer for New York magazine and Esquire. Blum will be the paper's fourth editor since the merger and was not available for comment.
Christgau created and contributed the Voice's signature brand identity "Consumer Guide" columns, and compiled its annual "Pazz & Jop" rock critics "Best of" list. He said he is unsure whether he will resume the column and annual list elsewhere or if they would remain Voice property.
"That's not something that's been discussed, but I imagine they'd want to hold onto it," Christgau said in a phone interview last week. "I'm more concerned about the archive of 'Pazz & Jop' ballots ...being thrown in the trash can. I expect to be talking to relevant academics, assuming the Voice wants to give it up."
Harkavy referred all questions to a statement released by Village Voice Media, which said the layoffs were made to "place an emphasis on writers as opposed to editors."