Voice Media Group Relaunches ‘Best Of’ App

Voice Media Group has updated its BestOf app to help readers navigate the best local entertainment, restaurants, and bars in their cities through the eyes of alternative newspapers including LA Weekly and the Village Voice.

The app includes the most useful elements of mobile discovery: there’s a geo-location tool that finds readers on the map when they’re looking for something to do and a keyword search bar with category filters to help them find it. But, like Foursquare, the app also has an Explore tab for seeing what’s recommended nearby and a bookmarking tool for saving a great find for later.

In this case, the recommended locations are a combination of community reviews (complete with star ratings and “quick tips”) and advice pulled from the local publication’s ”BestOf” winners and finalists or critics picks going back several years.

“If you’re standing on a corner in Queens and you’re looking for fried chicken, we’re still going to serve you the last few years of ‘the best fried chicken’ as well as what other users around you recommend,” explained Voice Media Group CEO Scott Tobias.

Readers can also contribute to upcoming issues by using the app to vote in the readers’ poll, the results of which will ultimately be shared with the website and print versions of the alternative weeklies.

Will professional content play a smaller role now that Voice Media Group’s readers have an alternative to Yelp and Foursquare in their hands? In May, the Voice laid off long-time staffers including gossip columnist Michael Musto and theater critic Michael Feingold.

“These were layoffs that needed to happen for a very long time,” said VMG CEO Scott Tobias. “They will have no impact on content.” Tobias added that the publication has hired back more employees than were recently let go. Earlier this month, Voice Media Group hired Tom Finkel as editor of the Village Voice, along with three other writers. “The company is very healthy,” Tobias said.

The BestOf app is available for iOS on iTunes and Android on Google Play.

It includes data from the following publications: Village Voice (New York), LA Weekly (Los Angeles), Westword (Denver), New Times (Phoenix), Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times (St. Louis), New Times (Miami), City Pages (Minneapolis), New Times (Broward) and OC Weekly (Orange County); and also has data for other cities including Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.

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