Westword Parent Company Makes Deal to Free Up Ad Dollars

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.

Westword Questions 9News’ Journalistic Integrity on Dyer Dog Video

A day after 9News anchor Kyle Dyer was attacked on-camera by a dog, Michael Roberts at Westword contemplates the journalistic integrity of 9News’s decision not to allow anyone – even its own NBC Today Show – to air the clip because it “has been traumatizing for staff members.” Roberts rightly questions whether 9News applies that same standard to individuals not affiliated with the station:

“… Many items shown by TV stations on news broadcasts are traumatizing for the friends and family of the people involved. Think of the late January hit-and-run for which Taylor Jo Mathis was arrested. In that case, 9News and many other outlets in town ran surveillance footage of the car striking two people, with one sent airborne by the impact.”

Catfight Alert: Chef Bonanno vs. Westword

Here’s today’s free PR tip: If you are drafting quotes for a client, make sure the client 1) reviews and approves the quotes and 2) agrees not to disavow them publicly.

That advice would have helped Campbell Levy of Aspen’s Promo Communications. Levy reps Denver chef/restauranteur Frank Bonanno, who is engaged in a war of words Tweets with Westword over a Westword blog post that revealed his plan to open a new French-American restaurant and quoted Bonanno.

The problem is that Bonanno is claiming no knowledge of the information that lead to the blog post, which came from Promo Communications and included quotes from Bonanno. Here is the Twitter exchange so far:

Bonanno (@FrankBonanno):

@sarah_gore [The Westword blog post is based on] Bad information . . .I think there are even quotes in that story, which is odd . . .

@sarah_gore [Westword’s Lori Midson] wrote what someone said I said. Thing is, I had a different deal working–but that blog [post] ended it.

Westword (@CafeWestword) responded:

LM: @FrankBonanno As you know, it was your PR person who e-mailed me with very specific info about your new place — with a quote from you.

Ouch.