Pickets, Lawsuits, Sex Ads, and Hard Times at the Village Voice

The Village Voice has problems. The paper had yet another round of layoffs last month, as part of a nationwide cull by its parent company. (Not to be confused with the other layoffs earlier this year.) Like most alt-weeklies, the Voice depends on sex and drug ads for its very survival. The paper's so desperate for revenue that it's suing Time Out NY for using the phrase "Best in NYC." You know that belongs to the Village Voice, right?

And today, Voice staffers get the funnest bonus yet: a big protest at their headquarters! (Photos here.) An anti-sex-trafficking group is picketing the Voice today to protest the sex ads on Backpage.com, the Craigslist doppelganger that more or less keeps Village Voice Media afloat. (A recent lawsuit against Backpage failed, and considering the financial situation of alt-weeklies today, don't expect it to cut off any revenue streams voluntarily any time soon.) Alicia Keys and Gloria Steinem will both be there, reportedly, so be sure to go and stare slack-jawed!

Village Voice Media sent out an internal letter to employees telling them to "respect the rights" of the protesters, but making clear that the company disagrees with them, and asserting that "Village Voice Media is the industry leader in policing our site to keep underage kids out of adult classifieds." Well... who else would be to be policing your site? Eh. We asked Voice editor Tony Ortega for his take:

Ah, you know. I loved Nick Pinto's story last week about NYU. I thought Graham Rayman had a good get this week on Ray Kelly. Next week, for Thanksgiving, we have a treat from Jen Doll. I mean, that's what you do, right? You just keep it going, week after week, while hoping someday Obama pulls his head out of his ass and gets this economy going again. I'd like to start hiring again, dammit.

As for the protests today, I wish them the best of luck. No one who actually works in this office has anything to do with Backpage, but still, I understand why they picked our building. The people who work for Eater and Foursquare — won't they have stories to tell.

Keep on truckin, alt-weeklies. Keep on truckin, protesters. And keep on truckin, online classified sex ad patrons. You're all in this together.

[Photo via VillageVoicePimp.com]