Village Voice Media, the parent company of the LA Weekly, is dismantling. The company’s 13 alternative newspapers are being purchased by a group of top VVM executives, led by chief operating officer Scott Tobias. The new owners are calling themselves Voice Media Group and will operate out of Denver. Tobias will serve as CEO, Jeff Mars (formerly VVM’s vice president of financial operation) will be chief financial officer, and Christine Brennan (formerly the executive managing editor of VVM) will serve as executive editor for the new company.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Brennan, a.k.a. “The Wicked Witch of Westword,” sure does like to fire people, (or “cut the fat” as she puts it) so we can probably expect more carnage on the alt-weekly horizon. Fingers crossed it doesn’t reach the LA Weekly.
Our hometown alt-weekly was last purchased in 2005 when New Times Media, run by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, purchased Village Voice Media and adopted the company name. Lacey and Larkin will retain Backpage.com, the online classified ad site that was the most profitable — and controversial — part of Village Voice Media.
Separating the newspapers from Backpage.com is undoubtedly a wise business decision. The adult services section on Backpage has been linked to numerous cases of sex trafficking, and the controversy has led several companies to stop advertising with VVM newspapers.
“Backpage.com has been a distraction, there is no question,” Tobias told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s just not about what we do.”