Sunday, April 09, 2006
For 30 years, James Ridgeway has, in his person, his politics, and his writing, defined what makes the Voice a special publication.
From Three Mile Island to 9-11, Ridgeway has provided some of the nation’s most incisive and insightful coverage of government misfeasance and malfeasance. He was one of the first journalists in America to spotlight the threat posed by a resurgent racist and neo-Nazi movement, an issue he hammered away at in the pages of the Voice years before anyone ever heard of Ruby Ridge or Timothy McVeigh. His reports on escalating environmental abuses exposed corporate law-breakers and bureaucratic indifference.
Ridgeway’s writings on conflicts from Bosnia to Baghdad to Haiti have always provided the otherwise unreported flip-side of the world according to the mainstream media, in short reporting that jibes precisely with the exact mission of the Voice. Over the past few years, Ridgeway expanded onto the Web, filing regular nuggets of breaking news, and even posting video reports on the 2004 elections.
In light of this distinguished track record, the decision last week by the Voice’s new ownership to terminate Ridgeway is shameful. It also sends a terrible message as to the sort of coverage that the new ownership portends. We call on Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and Chairman and CEO Jim Larkin to reverse his discharge.
Village Voice investigative reporter Jennifer Gonnerman resigned from the paper on Monday, according to Voice sources. Gonnerman, 35, was a Livingston Award winner in 2000 and a National Book Award finalist in 2004. Her 2004 book Life on the Outside chronicled the effects of the Rockefeller drug laws through the story of Elaine Bartlett, a first-time offender sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Gonnerman left to further pursue book writing, Voice sources said. Amid turnover at the Voice, Gonerman was said to have told executives from the paper's new owner, New Times, that they should be tapping into the talent of current staff.
Gonnerman couldn't be reached for comment. Interim editor in chief Ward Harkavy said of her resignation, "I consider that personally and professionally a real loss. I'm saddened by that. Anybody who's worked with her would be saddened by her loss."