Peter Barbey, Reading Eagle Company president, buys 'The Village Voice'

Plastic newspaper racks for The Village Voice stand along a sidewalk in Manhattan.

The Village Voice, an alternative weekly newspaper that was bought three years ago by the Reading Eagle Company's president and CEO, will cease production and lay off approximately half its staff.

Owner Peter Barbey's announcement on Friday comes three years after he bought the paper and one year after it ceased publishing in print.

"This is a sad day for The Village Voice and for millions of readers," Barbey said. "The Voice has been a key element of New York City journalism and is read around the world. As the first modern alternative newspaper, it literally defined a new genre of publishing."

The Village Voice, founded in 1955, has been subject to "the increasingly harsh economic realities" facing those creating journalism, Barbey said.

The Village Voice halted its print production in April 2017 and went entirely online. The move was aimed at reinvigorating the more than half-century old publication.

Barbey said staff members have been working to ensure that the print archive of the Voice is made digitally accessible.