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Posts Tagged ‘Village Voice Media’

New TV Ad by Anti-Sex Trafficking Activists Calls For Closure of Backpage.com Sex Ads

Village Voice Media, the parent company of LA Weekly, continues to be targeted by activists fighting against child sex trafficking. The source of the controversy is the adult services ads on the VVM-owned classified advertising website Backpage.com. Despite numerous documented cases of pimps using the site to sell sex with trafficked women and children, VVM has resisted calls to shut down the highly profitable section.

With the advertisement below, sponsored by social service organization FAIR Girls, activists hope to increase public pressure on VVM to remove prostitution ads from Backpage.com. The ad, which will first air this Sunday on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, encourages viewers to visit the FAIR Girls website, where they can sign a petition urging VVM to shut down the adult services section on Backpage.com.

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Alicia Keys, Rosanne Cash, R.E.M., and More Join Fight Against Backpage.com

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.

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.

Group Plans Protest of The Village Voice

Village Voice Media, which operates Backpage.com, is coming under more fire for maintaining an adult section that allegedly has been used by people to buy and sell minors for sex. A group led by Groundswell, a social action service of the Auburn Seminary, is planning a protest in front of the Voice’s building tomorrow morning at 11 am.

During the protest, a Change.org petition (currently packed with over 220,000 signatures) that calls on the Voice to stop publishing ads on Backpage.com that might lead to child sex trafficking will be delivered.

The cause has been trumpeted by The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in a pair of columns. In addition to Kristof, 19 Senators have already asked the Voice to shutter the adult services section of Backpage.com.

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Former Underage Prostitute Sold on Backpage.com: ‘Like Going Back to Slave Times’

The classified advertising website Backpage.com makes approximately $22 million a year from escort ads, and a portion of those ads are selling victims of human trafficking. Nicholas Kristof gave a voice to one of those victims in an op-ed for the New York Times, where he once again made the case for the website’s closure.

As a minor, ‘Alissa’ was trafficked by pimps on Backpage.com. Alissa was her street name; she told Kristof she didn’t want to use her real name for fear Village Voice Media, the owner of Backpage.com, would retaliate. And VVM has in the past used the editorial pages of their newspapers, including the LA Weekly, to mock critics.

Kristof acknowledges that sex trafficking is a complicated issue, that many of the prostitution ads on Backpage.com are placed by adult women of their own volition, and that simply closing down the site won’t make sex slavery go away. And sex workers have come forward to argue that closing Backpage.com would make prostitution more dangerous, not less.

But to a victim like Alissa, providing any forum for trafficking is unacceptable. “For a Web site like Backpage to make $22 million off our backs, it’s like going back to slave times.” she told Kristoff.

(Photo: Ashley Gilbertson/VII / The New York Times)

Son of Village Voice Founder Criticizes Company for Ads that Have Been Used for Sex Trafficking

John Mailer, son of writer and Village Voice co-founder Norman Mailer, has joined the campaign on Change.org calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of  its Backpage.com classifieds site where individuals have advertised children and teens for sex.

According to the petition, started by Groundswell, a “multifaith social action initiative”:

A Georgia man was arrested for pimping two 17-year-old girls around the Nashville area. Detectives responded to a suspicious ad on Backpage.com and drove to a motel. There, they found the teens and their 37-year-old pimp, as well as a laptop computer, likely used for the online advertising. Just four days prior to that, four people in Denver were arrested for forcing a teen girl into prostitution. They also advertised her sexual services, including semi-nude pictures, on Backpage. And last year, a South Dakota couple was arrested for selling underage girls for sex on …. wait for it … Backpage.com yet again.

Here’s what Mailer, just one of the petition’s 80,000 supporters, had to say:

The Village Voice was born out of the desire for an independent media voice for the people, a voice that had the freedom and authority to hold those who abuse power accountable for their actions. While I understand firsthand the financial difficulties facing all print publications today, the fact of the matter is that Village Voice is making money from selling advertisements that others have used to buy and sell minors for sex.”

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Village Voice Media Editor Sends Enraged Email to New York Observer over Escort Ads Story

New York Observer media reporter Kat Stoeffel reported that Village Voice Media was drawing a huge amount of revenue — by some estimations $2.1 million — from escort ads on its classifieds site Backpage.com, even when organizations like Craigslist had shut down their erotic services sections due to lawsuits regarding child prostitution and trafficking.

Let’s just say this story went over somewhat badly with Village Voice Media. Terribly, in fact. Executive editor Mike Lacey wrote a long, invective-filled response to the Observer today, sounding near apoplectic with rage. Every other sentence contained an insult for Stoeffel. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

Stoeffel is the overly powdered aunt that haunts family holidays. At dinner, she’s left her teeth in a glass of water on the bedside table. She’d like to chew your goose. But she’s left to gum your bird while forgetting the grandkid’s names.

Admittedly, we’re not entirely sure what he’s getting at there. But let’s continue:

Because she is neither competent nor engaging she should not be allowed to discuss religion or politics, let alone sex and journalism.

And that’s just how it begins!

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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 Calls It Off with Little Known Sex Blog

Did you know the Village Voice had a sex blog called NakedCity New York?

Well, it did. Though not any more, apparently. The New York Observer reports that Village Voice Media gave sex blogger Jamie Peck news that the blog, which she edited for eight months, was finished. Peck tweeted on Wednesday:

Wow, just found out NakedCity is dead. If anyone’s been thinking of trying to hire me to write/edit for them, now would be a good time.

The blog was in something of a test-run, which might explain the lack of publicity. Still, Peck posted 519 posts during this time, and garnered “sparse but respectable” traffic. Too bad it didn’t work it.

Village Voice Media Launches Four New Blogs

nti_header.gifVia our sister blog FishbowlLA comes word that Village Voice Media is in the process of launching four national blogs. FBLA’s tip was confirmed by VVM internet head Bill Jensen who said that the blogs “won’t be under the Village Voice URL,” and that a number of them have already had a soft launch.

This includes ToplessRobot (“boy geek news” and “self-loathing”) and HeartlessDoll (“grrl geek news”) and Joystick Division (video game news…”updated daily by a Voltron-like team of Village Voice Media writers”). Not numbered amongst the new launches is Nikki Finke‘s Deadline Hollywood, which is owned by Finke but “promoted and assisted” by VVM. Also on the horizon a “rumored True Crime Blog.”

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