LOS ANGELES (AP) – A group of managers is buying the Village Voice and all its affiliated free weeklies, including Phoenix New Times but is leaving behind the online classified site Backpage.com, whose listings have drawn fire for promoting the illegal sex trade.
The buyout by managers is being led by Scott Tobias, the chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Tobias will become the new organization’s chief executive.
He said he has lined up private financing to buy almost all of the Phoenix-based company’s assets, which include LA Weekly and SF Weekly , from owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.
Larkin and Lacey will keep ownership of Backpage.com. Terms were not disclosed.
Tobias said in an interview that controversy around Backpage.com “has been a distraction, there’s no doubt about it.”
“This is about two businesses moving forward,” he said.
The purchase is being made by Voice Media Group, a new holding company based in Denver. The deal includes all 13 weeklies and their websites, the national sales arm and events such as LA Weekly’s Detour and New York’s Siren music festivals.
Backpage.com has become the nation’s top forum for ads for “escorts,” “body rubs,” and other thinly veiled references to prostitution since Craigslist.org shut down its adult services section in September 2010.
In July, three Washington state teenagers who said they were sold online for sex sued Backpage’s owners for allegedly enabling their exploitation. At the time, Village Voice Media said the suit wouldn’t pass legal muster and is barred by federal law.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on Backpage.com in an open letter in March to “stop promoting and profiting from human trafficking” by shutting down its adult services section as Craigslist had done.
In a statement on the deal, Larkin and Lacey, the founders of Village Voice Media Holdings, said they were “ready to move on and hand the reins to a new generation of writers, editors and publishers.”
Backpage.com will “become the centerpiece of a new online classified advertising company with business worldwide,” the statement said.
The deal also involves Westword in Denver; New Times in Miami and Broward, Fla.; Houston Press; Observer in Dallas; Riverfront Times in St. Louis; City Pages in Minneapolis and OC Weekly in southern California.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon