City Council passes resolution calling on Village Voice Media to drop adult-services ads

John Buffalo Mailer at a rally against Village Voice Media earlier this year. ()
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Yesterday, the City Council passed a resolution calling on Village Voice Media to nix the adult-services section of its Backpage.com site because the site is said to facilitate the sex-trafficking of minors.

"Village Voice Media needs to do all it can, immediately, to stop facilitating the crime of sex trafficking, which is why we’re calling on them to stop accepting adult advertisements on their Backpage.com website," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a statement.

“The Village Voice should do the right thing and stop profiting from sex trafficking," said Councilman Brad Lander, who co-sponsored the resolution with Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

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To be clear, The Village Voice itself is not pulling the strings on Backpage, although council members and activists often erroneously characterize the situation this way. Rather, it is the paper's parent company, Village Voice Media, that has the final say on whether or not to heed the calls of those who have been waging a very public battle against the lucrative classified advertising hub, which subsidizes the cost of running 13 alternative newsweeklies dotted around the country.

And as far as Village Voice Media is concerned, it already is doing "all it can...to stop facilitating the crime of sex trafficking."

The company has emphasized its cooperation with law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in reporting potential sex-trafficking situations. Eliminating the adult section of Backpage, it argues, would only make it more difficult to monitor and prosecute pimps.

"What terrifies me is the notion that what is going to happen is that this content, this advertising, is going to go to what are known as the 'black hat' websites, the underground websites, and ultimately the off-shore websites," said Village Voice Media's general counsel, Liz MacDougall, at a tense committee hearing last month on the resolution that was adopted yesterday.

The council resolution, of course, has no force. But it is sign of the political pressure mounting on Village Voice Media as the Backpage controversy escalates. Republican congressman Bob Turner recently introduced an anti-Backpage resolution in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand has co-sponsored similar legislation. And Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler also recently joined the fray.

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The Los Angeles Times has shuttered its monthly magazine. [Fishbowl LA]

It's developing a quarterly fashion pub instead. [Fishbowl LA]

Was Jeff Himmelman's Ben Bradlee bio really that much of a betrayal? [The New York Observer]

The day Mike Allen stopped working. [Fishbowl DC]

CNBC's pitch to primetime advertisers. [TV Newser]

Notes from David Carr and Brian Stelter's Internet Week chat. [Adweek]