Hill Talk: Voice of the Hill to Be Silent, Citing Drop in Ad Revenue
The print journalism industry’s recession-accelerated demise suffered another casualty this week: Voice of the Hill, a 12,000-circulation community monthly that covers Capitol Hill, announced it will close.
Longtime Hill resident Bruce Robey founded Voice of the Hill as a website in 1999, later expanding its reach with a print version. It developed a reputation for local news that allowed it to challenge the more established Hill Rag.
“It was a revolutionary website when it started,” said Julie Westfall, managing editor for the Voice of the Hill from 2007 to 2010. “It was among the first to start a really robust community website where people really came to the comment board.”
In 2006, Robey sold Voice of the Hill to the Current Newspapers, which also publishes the Northwest Current, the Georgetown Current and the Dupont Current. Current publisher Davis Kennedy said that steady cutbacks, including moving from a twice-monthly to a monthly publication and reducing hours for a three-person staff, preceded the decision to close the paper.
“We looked at it and said what was the potential future and is ad revenue going to pick up in the next year or two, and the ad representative was not optimistic,” Kennedy said. “So we said if that’s the situation, we’d better not pour good money after bad.”
Prior to his death in 2009, Robey was known as an advocate for neighborhoods around Capitol Hill. In addition to Voice of the Hill, he converted an old restaurant into the H Street Playhouse and was an active member of the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals. In 2003, he received the Capitol Hill Community Foundation’s Community Achievement Award.