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Alternative Weeklies

Highlight Music for Village Voice

It’s almost the weekend, and you’ve been invited to your roommate’s band’s show tonight. If the cheap beer isn’t a good enough incentive, maybe a byline at the Village Voice is.

As the most open section of the Voice, the music section is vibing for offbeat culture stories with a humorous yet hard-hitting tone. Music editor Maura Johnston wants to know what is happening around New York: an artist with an interesting backstory and NYC ties who’s releasing an album, a micro-scene coalescing, and so on.

For more on word count and editor contact info, check out How To Pitch: Village Voice.

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Ashton Kutcher vs. the Village Voice

Sure, the Village Voice may have just avoided a strike — but is it any match for celebrities on Twitter? CNN is reporting that the Voice is engaging in some serious Twitter warfare with Ashton Kutcher, likely to the delight of his more than seven million followers. It began with the Voice‘s derogatory article accusing Kutcher for getting facts about sex trafficking wrong with his (admittedly oddly conceived, but no doubt well-intentioned) “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign.

As we’ve covered in the past, there is an existing controversy over the fact that Village Voice Media generates a significant revenue from escort ads on its classified site Backpage. So if they call out anyone over sex trade concerns, in fairness they should be prepared for that all to come up. Which it did.

Kutcher fired off a number of tweets, including: “Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me… How much $ did your ‘escorts’ in you classifieds on backpage make last year?” and “REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM.”

The Voice responded, “Wow, @aplusk having a Twitter meltdown! Hey Ashton, which part this story is inaccurate?… we’ll bite. Tell us the hard facts you have collected. We’ll fact-check for you.” Later, when it seemed like Kutcher wasn’t responding, the publication added: “Where’s your fight now, @aplusk? Did you sleep in, or are you just tuckered out from last night’s Twitter tirade?”

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Newspaper Apologizes for “Hottest Sex Offender” List

Today in offputting, we hear from Poynter that Houston Press, a Village Voice affiliate, wrote a post called “10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List.”

Funny stuff. Note that women on the list have assaulted boys and girls ranging from two to 16 years old.

The writer of the piece, editor Richard Connelly, was, obviously, taken to task in the comments under the post, such as this one: “There is nothing about child molestation that should be glorified. I cannot believe this got published and everyone involved should be fired.”

Now he has issued an apology, and explained the genesis of this post:

Last week I spoke to two veteran child-porn prosecutors… It triggered an idea about how people have a pre-conceived notion of what dangerous predators “always” look like — slovenly fat guys in t-shirts asking kids if they wanted a ride — and how best to shake that notion up.

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Village Voice Media Sees Huge Revenue from Escort Ads

It turns out that Craigslist closing its “Adult Services” section last year was something of a windfall for Village Voice Media, whose site Backpage is now the only popular classifieds site left willing to host prostitution services ads. And, as the New York Observer reports, business is booming:

In the month after Craigslist closed its erotic services sections under pressure from Congress and state attorneys general, Backpage enjoyed a half-million-visitor bump in traffic, according to Quantcast, and became the No. 1 publisher of escort ads on the Internet. The Aim Group, a media consulting firm, estimated that in January, Backpage brought in $2.1 million in revenue from erotic services ads alone.

Aim Group founding principal Peter Zollman actually thinks that the reason Backpage hasn’t contested these figures is that they underestimate how much money adult services are pulling in for Village Voice Media.

All the same, if an adult services giant like Craigslist stopped featuring escort ads, it’s hard to imagine Village Voice Media lasting long under the pressure from lawsuits and unsavory news items, which has already begun. In September a former child prostitute sued Village Voice Media for knowingly publishing advertisements of her, and later that month 21 attorneys general called on the company to follow Craigslist’s lead and ban escort ads.

Village Voice Decides To Go Light On Mailer Coverage

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Were you surprised to see how light the coverage in this week’s Village Voice was regarding Norman Mailer? Mailer co-founded the alternative weekly in 1955 with Ed Fancher and Dan Wolf. His innovative and freewheeling marijuana-fueled essays in 1955 and 1956 are regarded as significant in the development of the New Journalism. The salmon-colored weekly’s John Koblin spoke with VV editor Tony Ortega about the lack of Mailer:

“Mailer definitely founded this newspaper, but he had a short relationship with it,’ Mr. Ortega told The Observer this afternoon … ‘We’re gonna do Mailer next week … There was no shortage of Mailer pieces this week.”

(image via albany.edu)