City Pages and a dozen other alternative weeklies across the country are implementing stricter standards for their advertisements after a company split with controversial ad website Backpage.com.
In a post dated Wednesday, but made public the day before, Will Bourne, the new editor of The Village Voice, said that his paper along with the other weeklies "across the entire Voice Media Group chain" are implementing stricter standards in an effort "to make sure that our advertising is as ethical as possible." The policies will come "at no small cost to the bottom line of our young enterprise," Bourne wrote. Jaimen Sfetko, a spokesman for Voice Media Group, said Wednesday afternoon that the changes would be "effective immediately" at all of the group's publications including City Pages.
In September, parent company Village Voice Media split with a group of its executives, buying out City Pages and 12 other weeklies and forming Voice Media Group. The company's founders will operate Backpage as an independent entity. Backpage has been heavily criticized by activists and authorities for classified ads on its adult-ad section that have been linked to child sex trafficking.
According to Bourne, the new policies include: all direct advertisers must provide ID proving that they are over the age of 18, all agency advertisers must contract that every client in their ads is over the age of 18 and that all photos are of actual clients and all advertisers must submit to the publications that they do not conduct illegal activity. New rules also forbid suggestive language and allow only headshots in adult ads. Any advertiser known to engage in illegal activities will be permanently blacklisted from doing business with the papers.