Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
Village Voice Splits From Controversial Adult Ad Service
Monday, September 24, 2012
The Village Voice and a dozen other alternate-weekly newspapers around the nation are being sold – and are separating from a controversial online listings service that has been accused of facilitating human trafficking.
The new owners of the newspapers will be a group on investors led by Scott Tobias, the former chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings. Tobias' new company is called Voice Media Group and is based in Denver.
Meanwhile, Village Voice Media Holdings owners Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin will continue to own and operate backpage.com, and defend the site against a bevy of lawsuits.
It's not clear how much investors paid to purchase the 13 newspapers, including LA Weekly and the Houston Press.
Backpage.com was an important source of revenue for the newspapers, at least until the lawsuits began coming.
In May, New York City Council passed a resolution calling on Village Voice Media to stop accepting adult classified ads on backpage.com.
In a posting on the Miami New Times website, Lacey and Larkin explained their decision.
"Backpage's battles are an enormous distraction to publishers, editors and readers of Village Voice Media. ... Larkin and I depart to devote our undivided attention to the defense of Backpage, which is not part of the sale."
The Voice was purchased by New Times Media, which later changed its name to Village Voice Media Holdings, in 2005.