THE THINK TANK

Former New Times editor, investor discuss Backpage.com scandal

Jul 6, 2018, 2:00 PM
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Backpage.com: Sex, money and journalism.

And, a fascinating story of truly Shakespearean tragic dimensions. Idealism, success…and human frailty, and the corrupting influence of money? Perhaps.

The Phoenix New Times was founded in 1970 by Mike Lacey and others as an alternative weekly newspaper. I came here in 1979. At that point, it was about the only place in Phoenix to find good, investigative journalism.

If you wanted to understand what was really going on in this town, The Phoenix New Times was about the only place where you had much of a chance of finding out.

  • Francine Hardaway was a friend of Lacey’s and early investor in the paper.
  • Jana Bommersback was once its prize-winning investigative reporter and editor.

The Phoenix New Times became successful and ultimately purchased alternative weeklies throughout the United States, including the iconic Village Voice.

Backpage started out as just what is sounded like. It was the backpage of the printed paper. Ultimately, it became an online publication.

In April of this year, Backpage.com and affiliated websites we seized as part of an enforcement action by several federal agencies based on allegations that it knowingly allowed and encouraged users to post ads related to prostitution and human trafficking and took steps to intentionally obscure these activities.

Lacey and several other executives are under federal indictment for related charges.

Jana’s most recent book, thedeadgirlinthevacantlot, is loosely based on this story.

She and Francine have entirely differing takes on the Backpage.com prosecution. They are two of the most astute and articulate people I know. Listen in. Even though it is radio, you will seldom see such articulate sparks fly.

The Think Tank airs on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Sunday from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. and repeats 9 p.m.-10 p.m.

Podcasts are available after each show is broadcast.

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Former New Times editor, investor discuss Backpage.com scandal