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The Empire

The Wayne Barrett Era

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Barrett, whose weekly column was a staple in the alt weekly, said Tuesday that he was surprised when he was told he was being let go. Venerated reporter and colleague Tom Robbins will follow Barrett out the door at the end of the month.

“All he said to me as that I was being laid off for budget reasons,” Barrett said, referring to his editor at the Village Voice, Tony Ortega. “I was given a severance package that went beyond the union contract, and I’m very grateful for it.”

He added, “It certainly was a surprise to me.”

The announcement was made in Barrett's column published on the Voice's Web site Tuesday morning.

Barrett cut a striking figure in New York’s political reporting scene: tall, often smiling, and shamelessly letting his long hair tickle his shirt collar. His reporting was just as distinct. Barrett was decidedly New York-centric. And, since this is New York, his local characters were national: Giuliani, Sharpton, Cuomo -- all of whom came under close and relentless examination as their profiles were raised nationally.

“The reporting I do I believe is very objective,” he said. “After I’ve reported a story, I am allowed, unlike people at dailies, to frame the reportage in a piece that contains opinions. But it’s the reporting that shapes the opinion. It’s not the opinion that shapes the reporting.”


Barrett said working for an established news outlet still matters, even for him.

“I think being associated with a media enterprise is still extremely important because if you’re trying to reach people who are influential people in public or private sectors, the chances of them responding to someone whose name they don’t recognize and who is not associated with a media enterprise is virtually nil,” he said.