Riverfront Times Has Been Sold; We're No Longer Connected to Backpage.com

Categories: Media
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RFT's new parent company
The RFT has a new corporate owner, dear readers: Voice Media Group. And that means we've severed our ties with Backpage.com, a classifieds site with a controversial "adult" section. 

But our content shall remain unchanged!

Last night, the move was explained by our former managing editor Sarah Fenske. She's now editor-in-chief at our sister paper, LA Weekly, but everything she says about her own publication applies to us:

Since October 2005, this newspaper has been owned by Phoenix-based Village Voice Media. Tonight, it was announced that the Weekly, along with the dozen other alternative newsweeklies in the chain, has been sold to a new, Denver-based entity in a management buyout: Voice Media Group.

The new company represents a split: The old company's Phoenix-based executives, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, retain ownership of the website Backpage.com. But Lacey and Larkin have confirmed the buyout of the 13 alternative newsweeklies that comprised Village Voice Media's most visible face.

The new entity, Denver-based Voice Media Group -- which will be run by Christine Brennan, Scott Tobias and Jeff Mars -- has also taken ownership of the company's national advertising division, now to be called VMG National.

The new Denver owners previously served in high-ranking functions for Village Voice Media. Brennan, the company's longtime executive managing editor, will ascend to executive editor. Tobias, who had been Village Voice Media's chief operating officer, now becomes CEO. And Mars, formerly vice president of financial operations, is to be chief financial officer of the new company.

What this all means to you, dear reader? Not much. Our L.A.-based staff will continue printing the truth and raising hell. None of us in intend to go anywhere: You can still read all our great arts coverage, hard-hitting investigative pieces, and award-winning food criticism. (In fact, we suggest you pick up this week's issue: It's going to be a doozy.)

The main difference? The L.A. Weekly is no longer part of the same stable as Backpage.com, which has come under fire in recent years for its role in facilitating sexually based advertising. Backpage ads already no longer appear on this website, and Voice Media Group will be a separate entity.

In a statement to staff members, Lacey and Larkin indicated their desire to continue to fight for Backpage.com's existence, saying they "depart to devote our undivided attention to the defense of Backpage." The pair were part of the founding of Phoenix New Times in 1970 and acquired the Weekly, as well as the Village Voice, in 2005.

Voice Media Group claims readership of 94 million pages views each month and 3.14 million weekly print circulation.

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