A newly formed Denver-based holding company has announced it is purchasing Westword parent company Village Voice Media. Most of the coverage of the deal is benign, but Reuters offers a behind-the-scenes perspective that the move was made from a position of weakness due to advertiser boycotts.
The deal for Village Voice Media does not include backpage.com, a controversial property “which critics say facilitates sex trafficking through its ‘adult’ classified section.” A boycott organized by activists has led more than a dozen companies – including American Airlines, Best Buy, AT&T, Ikea, H&M, IHOP, Macy’s and Pfizer – to stop advertising in VVM properties, including Westword. It is thought the new holding company, legally separated from backpage.com, could regain those advertising dollars.
Here’s hoping the plan works. Westword has been an important part of Denver media for 35 years, and hopefully this deal will help it continue to play that role for decades to come.