A Voice of the Hill is silenced
The Voice of the Hill was the kind of community paper that you'd normally associate with rural places. It had columnists who didn't bother to fill you in on the background of the characters or situations they were catching you up on--they could simply assume that you were up with the progress of the story to date. Most often, the stories in the Voice didn't make The Post or the other Washington area metro news outlets, just as the shops that advertised in the paper weren't likely to be able to afford to (or want to) reach a broader audience.
But what I cherished about the Voice perhaps even more than the stories in its pages was the owners and their intense, deep commitment to the place they covered. Bruce and Adele didn't just own the paper: they lived the stories it wrote about. They moved into a tiny alley dwelling behind H Street NE--and when I say tiny, I mean you could just about touch both side walls of the place by standing in the center of the room--and got to know everyone on the alley. They bought the old French's restaurant and converted it into an adventuresome community theater, the H Street Playhouse, which was the pioneer behind what is now a burgeoning arts and entertainment district. And just as they lived their paper, so did they breathe life into that theater, infecting both old timers on the Hill and newcomers with an evangelism about reviving an urban corridor that had suffered through too many decades of neglect and decline.
The Robeys sold the Voice to Davis Kennedy's Northwest Current, a very different style of community paper but a superbly edited one that covers upper Northwest Washington more comprehensively than any other paper in the region covers its turf. But the Voice couldn't make it through the recession, Kennedy reports in the final edition of the Hill paper. Community papers have in recent years been the one bright spot in the print world, and especially those that, like the Current, eschew a web presence, making the print version the only place to get essential and intimate coverage of the neighborhoods they cover.
Like most other Washington neighborhoods, the Hill has a bunch of blogs that cover bits and pieces of the news, but nothing remotely as comprehensive, aggressive, understanding and loving as the Voice of the Hill. A gap has opened. What will fill it?
| May 5, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
Categories: Journalism , Local Life | Tags: Adele Robey, Bruce Robey, D.C. newspaper, Davis Kennedy, H Street Playhouse, Newspaper, Northwest Current, Voice of the Hill, capitol hill
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