Westword was established independently in 1977. In 1983 it was bought by New Times Media. In 2005, New Times acquired Village Voice Media, and changed its name to Village Voice Media. In September 2012, Village Voice Media executives Scott Tobias, Christine Brennan and Jeff Mars bought Village Voice Media's papers and associated web properties from its founders and formed Voice Media Group.
Westword is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and has received several awards for its investigative reporting. Westword has several regular features focusing on local events including arts, entertainment and politics. Regular arts and music criticism includes music criticism by Dave Herrera. Westword additionally publishes the cartoons of Tom Tomorrow.
The newspaper's web site, westword.com, offers comprehensive listings of music, arts, and additional events, along with restaurant and bar listings. Westword.com additionally has four blogs: Backbeat, a music blog; Cafe Society, about the Denver food scene; the Latest Word, a news and general-interest blog; and Show and Tell, an arts and culture blog. It additionally features regular nightlife and additional event coverage on its slideshow page, westword.com/slideshow.
Starting with the May 21, 2009 issue, Westword is now printed in a smaller magazine style with a glossy cover. Prior to this, the weekly had always been printed in a tabloid newspaper format.
Best of Denver
Every year, Westword's staff awards hundreds of Denver-area personalities, restaurants, bars, shops, and others "Best of Denver" awards. The awards are archived on the newspaper's web site, at .
The newspaper additionally throws a yearly concert, the "Music Showcase", in which the competing acts from each genre perform for a crowd and attempt to win a few additional votes. It additionally nominates an annual list of Masterminds, people whose contribution to arts and culture in the Denver area deserve special recognition.
Patricia Calhoun is the editor-in-chief of Westword. Her column, "Calhoun," appears regularly and usually offers biting perspectives or criticisms pertaining to current events.
Dave Herrera is the newspaper's music editor, and he writes a regular music column called "Beatdown."
Michael Paglia writes on art and architecture and is the author of a number of books including "Denver The Modern City", "The Mid-Century Modern House in Denver", "Landscapes of Colorado" and "Colorado Abstract".
Alan Prendergast often writes about crime, prisons and "death by misadventure." His coverage of the Columbine High School massacre attracted national attention and led to first publication of pages from the journal of Eric Harris. He is the author of a true-crime book, "The Poison Tree," about the Richard Jahnke parricide case.
Michael Roberts is the paper's media critic, and he blogs regularly on the Latest Word. The paper's additional staff writers include Joel Warner and Melanie Asmar.
David Holthouse article
Westword ran a cover storey on May 13, 2004 entitled "Stalking the Bogeyman" in which the 33-year-old journalist, David Holthouse, described being raped at the age of 7 by a 14-year-old at his home in Anchorage, Alaska. The attacker wasn't named but a picture and additional details were printed. The article told of Holthouse's recently abandoned plans to belatedly kill his now grown-up attacker: "I was going to watch him writhe like a poisoned cockroach for a few seconds, then kick him onto his stomach and put three bullets in the back of his head. This time last year I had a gun, and a silencer, and a plan".
After the article was published, Holthouse feared retaliation and asked a friend to follow the alleged attacker. The friend was arrested on suspicion of stalking on May 29, 2004. Holthouse's arrest soon followed. "Any charges against me are essentially charges of thought crimes," he said. The alleged attacker and his wife declined to press charges. The article won a second place in the annual awards of the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists. Holthouse's storey has after been adapted into a stage play by the same name.
In November of 2009 Westword became the first magazine or newspaper worldwide to employ a medical marijuana critic. An anonymous contributor known by the pen name William Breathes regularly posts reviews of local marijuana dispensaries and has recently begun a column called "ask a stoner." Westword has been sympathetic towards the growing Colorado medical and recreational marijuana movements, featuring ads for dispensaries in print editions and devoting an entire section of its website to the marijuana industry.