SF Weekly Sold to Voice Media Group

Categories: Media
SF Weekly has been sold.

Last night, it was announced the San Francisco-based alt-weekly has split from its parent company, Village Voice Media. It was sold to a new, Denver-based entity in a management buyout: Voice Media Group. The purchase includes the dozen other alternative newsweeklies in the chain, along with their websites and advertising.

Backpage.com, which is also currently owned by Village Voice Media Holdings and has been the source of much controversy for the paper, is not part of the buyout. Village Voice Media Founder Michael Lacey will continue fighting for the Backpage.com, which will go its own way as a separate company with separate ownership.

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, who has been executive managing editor of VVM for more than 19 years, will become executive editor of the new enterprise. 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.

"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."

So what will this mean for you, SF Weekly readers? Nothing, really. The San Francisco-based paper will continue digging up kick-ass stories, and raising hell around town. You will still get the cool arts coverage, event listings, and top-notch food and music reviews. The main difference is that you will no longer be subjected to Backpage.com, which has sparked nothing but controversy because of its role in facilitating sexually based advertising.

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, 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."

At its outset, VMG will reach more than 7 million monthly readers in print and 16 million unique desktop visitors each month, in addition to 1.2 million e-mail subscribers. It will also host more than 40 signature food, music, and arts events annually 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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Congrats to SF Weekly and Village Voice ~ for keeping the good parts and throwing out the bad, keep up the good work!

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