Village Voice being sold; Backpage.com left behind

Associated Press Modified: September 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: September 24, 2012
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DENVER (AP) — The Village Voice is being sold, along with all of its affiliated free arts weekly newspapers, but the deal excludes the online classified site Backpage.com, whose listings have drawn fire for promoting the illegal sex trade.

The buyout 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 company's assets, which include LA Weekly and SF Weekly, from the current owners, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

Larkin and Lacey will keep ownership of Backpage.com. Terms were not disclosed Monday.

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.

Tobias said Voice Media Group's publications will continue to focus on investigative journalism, coverage of food, arts, music and culture in the markets it serves. The company will also continue looking for new ways to serve readers on the Web and over mobile devices, he said.

The group's flagship newspaper Village Voice, launched in 1955, was the nation's first alternative newsweekly and remains among the largest. Founded in an apartment in New York's Greenwich Village, the newspaper is known for its coverage of the arts and culture, as well for its investigations into New York City politics. Over the years, it has won three Pulitzer Prizes.