The controversial adult services section of the classified ad site Backpage.com gained more high-profile critics this week. A number of musicians, including Alicia Keys, Rosanne Cash, Talib Kweli and members of the bands Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and The Roots have signed a petition against the adult ads, on the grounds that they are used by human traffickers to sell women and children sex slaves.
Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media, publishers of 13 alternative weeklies including the LA Weekly. The corporation has run articles in all 13 papers to downplay the frequency of child sex trafficking and attack critics, most famously Ashton Kutcher.
But this week the VVM papers have been uncharacteristically silent on the issue, despite both their new celebrity critics and a segment on Tuesday’s Nightline about the controversy. Is it possible the company has finally decided to stop compromising their journalistic integrity by using editorial pages to promote a corporate agenda? Let’s hope so.