The start of one of America’s strongest news team started in the late 60s. Back then, Michael Lacey still lived in Newark, NJ with plans of attending Arizona State University. Once he got to Arizona, he noticed the local news coverage of current events was very different from the rest of the country.
Arizona naturally took on an ultra-conservative stance on everything. Around that time, there were a lot of antiwar protests happening on campus. The local media’s coverage of these protests didn’t do credit to the protestors. So, Lacey and some fellow students released their own newspaper, called Phoenix New Times.
The paper, which was supposed to be a weekly campus paper, began to build traction. Soon, it took on a life of its own, causing Lacey to bring in more people to work on the paper. He even dropped out of school to dedicate his focus to growing his new company.
Shortly after he dropped out of school, he met Jim Larkin. Larkin was a Phoenix-native, who’d grown tired of the ultra-conservative views of the media. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
He also dropped out of school to head up the advertising side of the business. The newly formed partnership proved to be exactly what New Times needed.
By the early 80s, New Times began expanding nationally. They first acquired Westword, a newspaper out of Denver. They also used their expansion to branch into different subjects like art and culture. Before long, they’d acquired 17 like-minded papers from all over the country.
The multimillion-dollar media conglomerate they’d built was named Village Voice Media. To this day, VVM is considered the granddaddy of alternative media companies.
Despite the company’s tremendous success, they sold the company to some executives they’ve worked with over the last few decades. The sale came just before they were awarded a multimillion-dollar settlement from Maricopa County.
During their years of leading Phoenix New Times, they ran into some unwanted, but necessary, trouble with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He’d been abusing his power and local Latinos for years. When New Times revealed his atrocities to the nation, he began targeting them.
Eventually, that battled ended with Larkin and Lacey being awarded over $3 million. They used that money to start a fund that supports migrant and civil rights groups along the Mexican – American border.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: