Westword ownership to be based in Denver, again, after Voice Media Group deal

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The first edition of Westword hit the streets of Denver in September 1977. Over the past 35 years, Westword has gone through many changes -- as has the publishing industry in general, and the alternative newspaper industry in particular. But our basic mission has not changed: to cover (and sometimes uncover) the important stories in the city where we live, the city we love.

And today we'll be pursuing that mission with new energy, as part of a new publishing company. A new publishing company with very familiar names and faces.

Westword and a dozen partner papers across the country, as well as their websites, have been purchased from Village Voice Media Holdings, and are now part of a new publishing company, Voice Media Group. VVMH will continue to own Backpage.com, which is completely separate from the new company.

Scott Tobias, who started at Westword as a sales rep twenty years ago and most recently has been the COO of Village Voice Media Holdings, led the buyout, and the new company will be based in Denver. The senior managers at the papers and the websites will continue to run them, and the staffs remain the same.

We'll be talking more about the deal in this week's issue of Westword. But in the meantime, here's the official announcement:

NEWLY FORMED DENVER HOLDING COMPANY VOICE MEDIA GROUP TO ACQUIRE VILLAGE VOICE MEDIA PUBLISHING PROPERTIES

Voice Media Group to Focus on Expanding Multi-Platform Content Offering

DENVER, September 24, 2012 -- New holding company Voice Media Group today announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase the publishing and related sales properties owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC. The purchase includes the iconic Village Voice Media alternative weekly newspapers and their associated websites, as well as the national advertising arm of the company.

The buyout is being led by Scott Tobias, who has been Village Voice Media Holdings' chief operating officer and will be chief executive officer of the new Voice Media Group. Christine Brennan will become executive editor of the new enterprise after more than nineteen years as the executive managing editor at VVMH, and Jeff Mars will serve as chief financial officer, also building on his experience as vice president of financial operations for VVMH. Tobias, Brennan and Mars will comprise Voice Media Group's executive team.

Backpage.com, also currently owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, is not part of the buyout. Backpage.com will go its own way as a separate company with separate ownership.

"Voice Media Group will center its attention on the growth of the renowned weekly publications and continue its expansion into new and exciting mobile and online platforms," said Tobias. "We are focused on building a dynamic media business that allows our advertisers to target local audiences through multiple platforms. We will continue to offer advertisers a national footprint with hyper-local reach and we will continue to provide high-caliber and comprehensive content to our readers."

Under the terms of the agreement, Voice Media Group will own and operate the following print publications and corresponding digital properties: Village Voice (New York), LA Weekly (Los Angeles), Westword (Denver), New Times (Phoenix), Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times (St. Louis), New Times (Miami), City Pages (Minneapolis), New Times (Broward), SF Weekly (San Francisco), Seattle Weekly, and OC Weekly (Orange County). Voice Media Group will also purchase and take over VVMH's national advertising division, which will now be called VMG National. VMG National will continue to sell national advertising for more than 56 partner sites and publications, reaching more than 3 million readers across 56 key metro markets each week.

"The publishing properties purchased under this agreement have always exemplified a commitment to editorial integrity -- delivering reliable and essential news and cultural coverage to their local communities," said Brennan. "Voice Media Group will champion and nurture this journalistic heritage."

The new company will continue to serve local markets with thought-provoking articles, opinionated reviews, and comprehensive events and listings, while expanding the brand's digital footprint across mobile and online platforms.

About Voice Media Group
Voice Media Group is a privately held media company focused on the production of relevant news and entertainment content across print, mobile and web properties for the culturally aware consumer. The company will own and operate thirteen leading weekly newspapers -- including Village Voice (New York), LA Weekly (Los Angeles), Westword (Denver), New Times (Phoenix), Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times (St. Louis), New Times (Miami), City Pages (Minneapolis), New Times (Broward), SF Weekly (San Francisco), Seattle Weekly, and OC Weekly (Orange County) -- affiliated digital properties, and a national sales arm, VMG National. At its outset, VMG will reach more than seven million monthly readers in print and 16 million unique desktop visitors each month, in addition to 1.2 million email subscribers, more than 5.7 million visits on mobile, and more than forty signature food, music and arts events per year nationwide. Meanwhile, VMG National will serve more than 56 partner sites and publications with weekly print circulation of 3.14 million and 94 million pageviews per month. For more information, visit www.voicemediagroup.com.

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8 comments
HiLowCandor
HiLowCandor

Hasn't Westword been majorly snarky about The Denver Post's many problems, and its various attempts to soft-peddle its financial struggles, practically calling Greg Moore and Dean Singleton liars or Dupes? Patricia Calhoun has become the doubletalking corporate tool she used to hate, back when Westword served a purpose. I'm reminded of a few years ago when Michael Roberts wrote a glowing piece about how financially solid WW was compared to the Post and Rocky, then exactly two weeks later WW laid off one-third of its staff. I still recall that as the measure of what WW is.

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-23/business/sns-rt-us-usa-villagevoice-backpagebre88n040-20120923_1_backpage-com-village-voice-media-websites

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

How much of the new entity will Patty own?

garblegarg
garblegarg

IF the new ownership continues this emphasis on fluffy online content over substantial reporting, Westword and all formerly Village Voice papers are doomed.

FivePoints
FivePoints

"But our basic mission has not changed: to cover (and sometimes uncover) the important stories in the city where we live, the city we love."

 

That's hilarious!

 

I guess a never-ending string of "The 5 Best ..." and "The 5 Worst ..." and "Top Food Porn ..." and the rest of the nonsense Westword publishes these days totally equates to the quality work that Westword used to produce, even as recently as a three or four years ago.

 

Just look at the front page today. ... Nothing but important stories there!

 

The must-read Westword of years ago is but a ghost.

KTRK_SoniaAzad
KTRK_SoniaAzad

@mikemcguff I think you should ask @chitakhou and @KatCosley why you should write an article featuring their dance moves.... ;-)

PubliusTX
PubliusTX

. @trentseibert so one set of out-of-town owners will be replaced with another? and village voice houston (or whatever) will keep sucking

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