Village Voice Media (VVM) has split off from its controversial Backpage.com online advertising site and created a new company for its struggling chain of alternative weekly newspapers and websites. Backpage.com has been criticized for facilitating sex trafficking through its “adult” classified section. Dozens of national and local advertisers dropped their accounts as the result of an increasingly aggressive campaign.
Under the new plan, current Village Voice Media controlling shareholders Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin will operate Backpage.com independently, as a separate entity.
A new holding company called Voice Media Group and managed by new CEO Scott Tobias and VVM executive editor Christine Brennan will manage the 13 alternative weekly newspapers and their websites, as well as a national advertising network unaffiliated with Backpage, VVM attorney Liz MacDougall said in a statement. As part of the spinoff, Backpage classified ads will no longer appear in the weekly publications or their websites.
Online “adult” advertising generates about $3 million a month on five different websites, according to interactive media and classified advertising consultant AIM Group. Nearly 80 percent of that revenue goes to Backpage.com, AIM said in a report published earlier this year. Backpage.com generated an estimated $24 million in annual revenue from the lucrative online classifieds site.
Learn more at Chris Francescani’s and Nadia Damouni’s Reuters article: Village Voice newspaper chain to split from controversial ad site.