Lectură de weekend: Naşterea unei voci

Din The New Yorker,  un text despre naÅŸterea săptămânalului The Village Voice, una dintre cele mai vechi “publicaÅ£ii alternative” americane. Mi-a plăcut modul în care îşi defineau direcÅ£ia politico-culturală ÅŸi publicul Å£intă – căutând acea nişă rară ÅŸi riscantă, linia de demarcaÅ£ie între un produs comercial ÅŸi unul anti-sistem. Câteva exemple:

The literary Zeitgeist, I guess you’d call it, or Weltanschauung, around the Remo and the New School was the intellectual heritage of the Voice,” Fancher once said. That Weltanschauung was humanist and individualist; it was anti-relativist and anti-utopian. It was even, in some respects, conservative: it was reflexively suspicious of calls for change—part of the intellectual heritage of anti-totalitarianism. What the Voice was not was therefore as important as what it was. It was not a left-wing paper; it distanced itself from the Old Left and, later on, from the New. The editors were disaffected with liberalism, but the goal was to avoid ideology altogether. “The Nation, The New Republic, and Partisan were all boring,” as Fancher later put it. “Ideology bored us—not simply the Communist line but the antiCommunist line too.” (…)

Nor was the Voice an underground or countercultural paper. The idea was to make money (at least, not to lose it), and though the business side of the operation was fairly hopeless—[Norman] Mailer’s dad, Barney, was the first accountant; at one point, every member of the sales department was a poet—the founders worked hard to distribute the paper to newsstands all over the city.


[Jules] Feiffer’s characters were sometimes business types and politicians, but they were also sometimes caricatures of the sort of people one would imagine to be Voice readers—beatniks, lounge lizards, modern dancers. The hip was mocked as much as the square. This was also an attribute of the new comedy: it made fun of the establishment, but it was not antiestablishment. It was merely disillusioned, which is the place where all comedy begins and ends. “The beat generation,” Sahl used to say, “is a coffeehouse full of people expectantly looking at their watches waiting for the beat generation to come on.”

But which Feiffer characters were the real Voice readers? This touches on one of the coy mysteries of journalism, which is that the reader implied by a magazine’s interests and attitudes is rarely the magazine’s actual reader. If the actual Voice reader played the bongos or wore a leotard, the paper would not have lived for a year, because very few advertisers will pay to reach coffeehouse musicians and modern dancers. As McAuliffe explains, by the time the Voice began making money, in the mid-nineteen-sixties, the typical reader was thirty years old and had a median family income of $18,771 (about a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars today). Almost ninety per cent of Voice readers had gone to college; forty per cent had done postgraduate work. Most had charge accounts at major department stores, such as Bloomingdale’s. Most owned stock. Twenty per cent were New Yorker readers. The Voice was the medium through which a mainstream middle-class readership stayed in touch with its inner bohemian. It was the ponytail on the man in the gray flannel suit.


The Voice was a model for two very different journalistic products. One was the alternative paper. The first of the alternative, or underground, papers was the Los Angeles Free Press, commonly called the Freep, which was founded in 1964 by Arthur Kunkin. Kunkin had been inspired by a single issue he had read of the Village Voice. “I liked the investigative articles, their length, the mixture of culture and community,” he said. What he did not like were the Voice’s politics—a kind of centrist liberalism. Kunkin despised liberals; his paper’s orientation was radical. Walter Bowart, one of the founders of the Voice’s crosstown rival, the East Village Other, which was started up during the New York newspaper strike of 1965, was more blunt. The Voice, he said, “was a straight old safe Democratic paper, what you get when a businessman and a psychiatrist go into journalism.”


3 Responses to “Lectură de weekend: NaÅŸterea unei voci”

  1. domnisoara T on June 19th, 2009 6:02 pm

    Offtopic. Am primit sugestia de a participa la un curs de jurnalism narativ si adresa acestui blog. Numai ca ce incepe in toamna este un modul pentru avansati. Pentru cineva ca mine care nu e nici la grupa mica ce se poate face?

  2. Cristi on June 20th, 2009 8:51 am

    @domnisoaraT: Cursul la care te referi a avut loc toamna trecuta. Deocamdata nu este niciunul planuit pentru viitorul apropiat (fie avansati, fie incepatori – desi nu imi plac descrierile astea). Daca vor avea loc le vei vedea anuntate atat aici, cat si pe cji.ro.

  3. domnisoara T on June 20th, 2009 9:46 am

    Da, observ ca am fost dezinformata si e vorba de timpul trecut, si nu de prezent sau de viitor. Raman la conditional-optativ. Multumesc de informatii

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