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Village Voice Media

Village Voice Media
Privately held company
Industry Publishing
Genre Newspaper publishing
Founded as New Times Media
Headquarters Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Area served
Various cities across the United States
Products Weekly alternative newspapers

Village Voice Media is an American privately held corporation, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona,.[1] In September 2012, VVM sold its weekly alternative newspapers to Voice Media Group.[2] These weeklies included The Village Voice, published in New York City, New York, America's oldest (founded in 1955) and largest alternative weekly newspaper.[citation needed]

Village Voice Media operates Backpage, the second largest U.S.-based Internet classified ad listing service after Craigslist.[3] It is the largest source for adult services listings on the Internet.[4]


The company was previously named New Times Media. On October 24, 2005, New Times Media announced a deal to acquire Village Voice Media, creating a chain of 17 free weekly newspapers around the country with a combined circulation of 1.8 million.[5] After the deal's completion, New Times assumed the Village Voice Media name.

In 2002, the previous Village Voice Media had entered into a noncompetition agreement with New Times Media, another[clarification needed] national publisher of alternative weeklies, whereby the two companies agreed to stop publishing New Times LA (a product of New Times Media) and Cleveland Free Times (a product of Village Voice Media), so that the companies would not publish two, competing newspapers in any single city. This agreement and phasing out of the two newspapers, led to an antitrust investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The investigation resulted in a settlement, requiring the companies to sell off assets and the old newspapers' titles to any potential competitors.[6]

In October 2007, Michael Lacey, the executive editor, and Jim Larkin, the chief executive, of Village Voice Media, were arrested in Phoenix on charges that a Village Voice Media publication, the Phoenix New Times, had published secret grand jury information. A state special prosecutor was investigating the newspaper's long-running feud with Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, including the publishing of Arpaio's home address, a crime under Arizona law. The special prosecutor's subpoena included a demand for the names of the readers of the New Times's website. It was the information about the subpoena which was deemed by prosecutors to be secret grand jury information.[7]

Until 2012, Goldman Sachs owned 16% of Village Voice Media, but sold its shares soon after Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times publicized the fact and began asking them questions about its stake.[8] According to the bank, they "had no influence over operations,” of their asset.[9]

In 2012, Village Voice Media owners sold the papers and their web properties to a group of longtime executives, leaving the online classifieds site Backpage in control of shareholders Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin. In talking about the advertiser controversies, the CEO of the new newspaper firm said, "Backpage has been a distraction - there's no question about it - to the core (editorial) properties." Executives for the spinoff holding company, called Voice Media Group and based in Denver, raised "some money from private investors" in order to separate the newspapers.[10]


The company was sued in September 2010 by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim (identified in court papers as "M.A") for allegedly aiding and abetting forced prostitution and the exploitation of children and child pornography by failing to investigate the prostitution ads on Backpage,[11] which is owned by Village Voice Media.[12] A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in August 2011.[13] The court case and allegations of Village Media's role in child trafficking has been highlighted by many national commentators.[14]


In an article on the Village Voice website,[15] Village Voice rebutted the allegations against it by pointing out several factual errors in Nicholas Kristof's article, including the fact that Backpage was not operating in the markets where the 15-year-old victim was said to be involved in prostitution.[14] "A video that accompanied [Kristof's] online op-ed was headlined: "Age 16, She Was Sold on" That is not true. According to Alissa's court testimony, she was 16 in 2003. did not exist anywhere in America in 2003."

Nicholas Kristof's Response to the rebuttal

Nicholas Kristof immediately responded to the Village Voice Media's rebuttal with an entry in his blog.[16] An excerpt is posted below.

"It’s interesting that Village Voice doesn’t dispute anything in my column or the accompanying video, but only the online blurb for the video. The Voice is right that Alissa was 16 in 2003 — for about two days. In fact, Alissa turned 16 at the end of 2003. So all during 2004, she was 16 years old. And so it was in 2004, not 2003, that she was traveling up and down the east coast being pimped. Backpage operated in at least 11 cities during 2004, including Miami and Fort Lauderdale, both of them cities where Alissa says she was pimped on Backpage. Then at 17, as Backpage expanded to 30 cities including Boston, she was pimped even more broadly on Backpage — and also in Village Voice print ads, she says."
"Moreover, contrary to what the Voice says, Alissa continued in the sex trade until 2007, when she got out for good. Backpage was steadily expanding and becoming a major force in this period, and pimps routinely used it to sell her, she says."

See also


  1. ^ Database (undated) "Village Voice Media Holdings, LLCTemplate:Spaced ndashPhoenix, AZ United States". Hoovers. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  2. ^ "Village Voice Management Buyout Leaves Behind". Ad Age. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Joe Dorish (February 2011). "Backpage Vs. Craigslist". Knoji. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Deborah Feyerick and Sheila Steffe (11 May 2011). "A lurid journey through". CNN. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "New Times Will Buy Village Voice Media". The New York Times. October 25, 2005. 
  6. ^ Blackwell, Savannah (January 29, 2003). "New Times NailedTemplate:Spaced ndashSF Weekly's Parent Company Charged with Violating Antitrust Law". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  7. ^ (registration required) Carr, David (October 19, 2007). "Media Executives Arrested in Phoenix". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Jonas, Ilaina (April 1, 2012). "Goldman fund to exit company owning sex traffic site". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  9. ^ "What Nick Kristof Got Wrong: Village Voice Media Responds", Village Voice Media Wednesday, Mar 21 2012
  10. ^ Francescani, Chris; Damouni, Nadia (Sep 24, 2012). "Village Voice newspaper chain to split from controversial ad site". Reuters. Retrieved Sep 25, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Victimization of Plaintiff M.A." (PDF format; requires Adobe Acrobat).
  12. ^ "Parties" (PDF format; requires Adobe Acrobat).
  13. ^ Patrick, Robert (August 17, 2011). "Federal Judge Dismisses Teen's Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Website". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Kristof, Nicholas D., "Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods", The New York Times
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D.,"Responding to Village Voice on Sex Trafficking", The New York Times

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