Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So Long Guys

Today is a very sad day in the annals of New York journalism: after more than thirty years, the Village Voice will no longer be publishing the brilliant work of Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins. Thanks to budgetary reasons and the Voice's inept ownership, Barrett was let go at the end of the December and Robbins, in an act of solidarity, left with him.

Wayne Barrett is, without question, the best journalist working in this town today. He has done more to rip the scabs off the powerful in this city and state that he should have earned multiple Pulitzer Prizes over the years. Tom Robbins has done similarly excellent work. They are classic shoe leather reporters -- digging up documents, interviewing people, following the money -- journalism at its best. 

Barrett and Robbins did what all reporters should do but few these days do: speak truth to power, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Theirs is indeed a rare breed these days. Too many "journalists" in this town today aren't really journalists at all but thumb sucking opinion writers. "Journalists" like the vile, repulsive Michael Goodwin spend all their time propagandizing for politicians and policies that help the wealthy and powerful while attacking any public figure or policies that dare help anyone making less than $100 K a year. Pricks like Goodwin don't have the balls (or the heart) to engage in real journalism -- they just act as stenographers for entrenched interests. Real journalists investigate what the entrenched interests do to regular people -- and how they get away with it.    

Whether it was his annual list of the city's worst landlords, how Ed Koch basically sold this city to real estate developers, investigating how Rudy Giuliani utterly failed to prepare this city for a massive terrorist attack, how George Pataki is the real culprit for our totally inept state government, or how the Bloomberg administration was complicit in the Duetsch Bank building fire -- they covered the stories most newspapers in this town shied away from.  

They had no holy cows: they went after Republicans and Democrats, unions and corporations, you name it. As this article states, they were good old-fashioned muckrakers  -- they would have made Upton Sinclair proud. 

You should read Wayne Barrett's final Voice column -- it's a hoot. He'll be working at the Nation Institute and hopefully Tom Robbins will land somewhere. But it won't just be the same without these guys at the Village Voice. Our city has lost another small part of its identity. 

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