The ax fell today at Village Voice Media, as the publication fired three of its most high-profile contributors: gossip columnist Michael Musto, theater critic Michael Feingold, and in a major shot to the city’s food writing scene, longtime restaurant critic Robert Sietsema.
"The net effect of these changes will be to slightly reduce the number of editorial employees at the publication… and better align the Voice with the long-term business and editorial goals of the company," the Voice said in a release.
Sietsema, who’s contributed weekly columns to the publication for many years, was referred to as simply a "freelance food writer" in the release, severely downplaying his crucial role in making the Voice a respectable source of culinary info. Over the years, he’s not only reviewed high-end restaurants but was one of the few major writers to venture far beyond Manhattan to discover the outer boroughs’ undiscovered gems.
To buffer the news, they’ve also announced that there will be an "expansion and reinvigoration of the Voice's food and restaurant coverage, both on the blog and in print," and that they’re looking for new freelance writers to contribute restaurant-related content.
The Village Voice doesn’t bring in nearly as much revenue as the larger publishers like Condé Nast and Hearst, so the fact that they needed to replace their highest-paid writers with freelancers doesn’t come as much of a shock. We’re sure that Sietsema, Musto, and Feingold will land on their feet, but this decision is a major editorial loss for the Voice.