Longtime Village Voice political columnist Wayne Barrett just sent out word that he will be leaving his perch at the paper after having written, he says, “by my own inexact calculation, more column inches than anyone in the history of the Voice.”
Adds Barrett: “These will be my last. I am 65 years and a half now, and it is time for something new.”
Barrett has stayed at the city’s leading alternative newsweekly through 14 different editors, by his own count, and his longevity at a place known for the temporary nature of the newsroom surprised many political and media observers in this town. Still, he has set the standard of investigative local political reporting, and his insight will be sorely missed in the municipal conversation.
My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.
There is also no other job where you get paid to tell the truth. Other professionals do sometimes tell the truth, but it’s ancillary to what they do, not the purpose of their job. I was asked years ago to address the elementary school that my son attended and tell them what a reporter did and I went to the auditorium in a trenchcoat with the collar up and a notebook in a my pocket, baring it to announce that “we are detectives for the people…
I have loved my bond with you and have never traded an inch of truth for a moment, or even a season, of access. I tell the young people still drawn to this duty that it is the most honorable one in America, and that I have never met a corrupt journalist.”
Barrett writes that he does not know what he will do next, but says that “it may be books or blogs or something in between” and mentions to being pulled into doing some more national reporting.
Read the full farewell here.
Update: In his farewell, Barrett hinted that his departure was not his idea (“I am 65 and a half now, and it is time for something new. If I didn’t see that, others did.”) and New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said on Twitter that Barrett was fired.
Barrett also buried this shocker in the second to last graf of his goodbye post: Tom Robbins, a 10-year Voice veteran, quit in apparent protest.
I tell the young people still drawn to this duty that it is the most honorable one in America, and that I have never met a corrupt journalist. I even met one, Tom Robbins, so brave that when he heard I was leaving, he quit himself and didn’t even tell me he was. “I’m going out with the guy who brought me to the dance,” Robbins told me after he resigned, crafting a lede with the very fiber of his life.