[UPDATE BELOW] Veteran Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett has been let go from the increasingly desiccated tabloid, and the paper's other major investigative reporter, Tom Robbins, has quit in protest, the Times reports. (Update: Below, Voice Editor-in-Chief Tony Ortega denies that Robbins quit "in protest.") In a good-bye column today, Barrett writes, "Ed Koch and I were inaugurated on the same day in 1978. He became mayor and I became his weekly tormentor... Since then, I have written, by my own inexact calculation, more column inches than anyone in the history of the Voice. These will be my last. I am 65 and a half now, and it is time for something new. If I didn't see that, others did." The reasons for Barrett's dismissal are currently unclear, but in his rousing farewell he hints at the tension between the fast and cheap blogging and time-consuming journalism:

When I was asked in recent years to blog frequently, I wouldn't do it unless I had something new to tell a reader, not just a clever regurgitation of someone else's reporting. 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."

Here are the archives for Barrett and Robbins's work for the Voice, which is reportedly doing quite well now that Craigslist has banned prostitution ads. So at least there's that, plus their listings, dining, and culture coverage, and the blogs. But who's on staff over there to do, you know, reporting on hard news? The front section of last week's issue consists of Robbins's column, the Michael Musto cover story, and then it's on to the culture coverage. With these guys gone, the print edition is looking more and more like a dirtier, less thorough version of Time Out. Sure, it's free, but you need to pay for the surgical gloves to pick it out of the newspaper box/public urinal.

Update 2 p.m.: Despite the Village Voice EIC's denial, the Times is sticking to its explanation of Robbins's departure, which came straight from Barrett. Media Decoder reporter Jeremy W. Peters writes, "Robbins quit after learning that Mr. Barrett had been laid off. 'I had no idea he was doing it. I tried to talk him out of it,' Mr. Barrett said in an interview, adding that he was told by Voice management that his position was being eliminated for budget reasons."

Update 3 p.m.: Reached by phone, Ortega tells us, "I just got off the phone with that Times reporter [Jeremy W. Peters]. Wayne did not say that Robbins quit in protest; that is [Peters's] interpretation of what Wayne told him. Wayne left last week. He's telling people why, and I wanted him to break the news so the focus could be on his history here.

"Tom is the union steward and he was working with me on details of Wayne's departure, and at that point he said he wanted to leave. And we set a date for the end of the month. Now, I'm the guy who made Tom Metro columnist at the Voice here. There were no hard feelings. He never stormed into my office and said he was quitting in protest. That is just not the case. I'm sad that they're both leaving. We just came off of a terrific year."

Asked if there was any a connection between losing Barrett and the loss of $1 million in ads from the Voice because of a blogger's infamous dick "joke" about Cablevision owner James Dolan and Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin, Ortega told us, "Honestly, I don't think so. That money came back very quickly. We are still in a rotten economy. It's still brutal, and we have to be prudent about money we spend. The way our company works, we spread those situations around. We've had some budget constraints, but you cant really point to one thing. And I think we're the only newspaper in town that makes money and is still in business—not because there's a billionaire who's willing to throw money away to keep us afloat."

So there you have it: Wayne Barrett is not a dick "joke" casualty.