Former Movieline and Salon film critic Stephanie Zacharek has been named principal film writer at Village Voice, where her reviews and features will appear in all of Voice Media Group’s publications, websites and mobile platforms. The alt-weekly recently lost lead film critic Scott Foundas, who moved to Variety last month. VMG also intends to hire a Los Angeles-based film writer and as of today is accepting applications.
The venerable alternative newspapers plus 11 others are part of a buyout announced last night that will separate them from Backpage.com, the classified ad service that critics say promotes prostitution. The chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings, Scott Tobias, led the team buying the papers, called Voice Media Group. Terms weren’t disclosed, except that Backpage.com is not included. The site known for its classified ads offering “escorts” had been a “distraction,” Tobias — who’s CEO of the new Voice Media Group – told AP. In March, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said that Backpage played “a major role in the trafficking of minors or women who are coerced.” Goldman Sachs responded by selling its stake in the site. The Voice said that Kristof had it wrong, and that Backpage “dedicates hundreds of staff to screen adult classifieds in order to keep juveniles off the site and to work proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims.”