Owners of Phoenix New Times, Village Voice to sell off newspapers

September 24, 2012

The owners of Phoenix-based Village Voice Media are selling their newspaper holdings, but hanging on to a controversial classified website. 

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were among the original founders of the Phoenix New Times. Over the years, they bought other alternative weeklies across the U.S., including New York City’s legendary Village Voice -- which lead them to rename their company Village Voice Media.

Lacey and Larkin have also faced controversy. They’ve been in a long-running spat with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And they’ve come under fire over Backpage.com, a classified ad site foes say promotes prostitution and human sex trafficking.

Now, the two men are selling off their newspapers but retaining ownership of Backpage.com. The papers will be held by a new, Denver-based company called that’s set to be run by Village Voice Media’s current Chief Operating Officer Scott Tobias. Tobias calls Backpage a “distraction.”

Lacey and Larkin say they’re ready to hand off the journalism to a new generation and focus on their classified site.

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