More Media Layoffs: Village Voice’s Michael Musto And Michael Feingold Fired; AOL’s Patch Hit Hard

Last week, IBTimes published a piece on Black Ink Friday following a slew of reported layoffs at New York print publications, including the Daily News, the New York Post  and the Village Voice. This Friday, the darkness continues.

Voice Media Group said Friday that it is making further staff reductions, with this round including the veteran lifestyle columnist Michael Musto, the theater critic Michael Feingold and the food writer Robert Sietsema. Musto, who has been with the pioneering alternative weekly since 1984, was largely seen as the last vestige of the Voice’s glory days. Feingold, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for criticism in 2009, has been invited to serve as chairman of the Voice’s Obie Awards, which celebrate off-Broadway. Sietsema, a freelancer, has been with the paper since the early 1990s.

Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan was the first to report the news, which comes one week after two top editors -- Will Bourne and Jessica Lustig -- walked off the job rather than carry out layoffs. The editors told the New York Times’ David Carr that the layoffs would have affected five of the paper’s 20 employees, a number Voice Media Group later denied.

Both Musto and Sietsema tweeted earlier, thanking supporters for their well-wishes, which continued on Twitter throughout the day. Sietsema appeared somewhat bitter toward the paper he’d worked at for two decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a press release, Voice Media Group -- the company that bought the Voice and its stable of alt-weeklies from Village Voice Media in September -- said the layoffs will ensure the sustainability of the publication.

Meanwhile, the Voice wasn’t the only media outlet to learn of layoffs on Friday. Patch, the hyperlocal content portal owned by AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL), may let go as much as 3 percent of its 1,400-person staff, as reported by All Things D’s Kara Swisher. Citing an internal memo, Swisher wrote that Patch’s CEO, Jon Brod, is stepping down and will be replaced by Steve Kalin, currently the company’s chief operating officer and president. According to Swisher, AOL confirmed the contents of the memo and said that “Patch is streamlining its regional editorial structure across the country by moving from 20 to nine teams.”

Purchased by AOL about four years ago during the hyperlocal craze, Patch has struggled in recent years, despite repeated assertions by Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, that it is heading for profitability. The company is holding an all-company call on Friday at 6 p.m. EDT.

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