Michael Lacey grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and later moved west to join Arizona State University in the late 1960s. In 1970, Lacey dropped out of campus and teamed up with his friend Jim Larkin to launch Phoenix New Times to counter local media that adversely covered antiwar protests at the campus.
The newspaper was released weekly and Lacey was the executive editor while Jim Larkin was in charge of the advertising section. The circulation of the newspaper expanded rapidly across the country and became one of the most preferred alternative newspapers among the public. The firm continued with expansion plans and concluded the acquisition of Denver’s weekly publisher of news and art, Westword.
This was the beginning of an elaborate expansion plan that later emerged as a multimillion dollar business of 17 newspapers including Miami New Times, LA Weekly and the New York City based Village Voice Media.
Arrest of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin
In October 2007, Larkin and Lacey were forcibly taken to custody through orders issued by Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff who is recognized for his anti-immigrant actions. Read more: Mike Lacey | Crunchbase
The arrest was as a result of the two being the executives of Phoenix New Times, a paper recognized for exposing misdeeds done by the top leadership of the County. The two had revealed in the paper that their writers and editors were targeted by the grand jury subpoenas, which was against the constitution of the United States.
However, Lacey and Larkin were released from custody and all charges dropped after activists demanded for their freedom. It was later found that the warrants issued by the grand jury were not genuine and could not be used to charge the two.
The two reporters filed a case against the County demanding compensation for their illegal arrest. The court found out their rights were violated, and ordered Maricopa County to pay them $3.75 million. The County paid the settlement in late 2013, and in 2014, the two journalists established Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund. The aim of this fund was to help Latin-American rights organizations in the state of Arizona.
These organizations assist migrant communities and other individuals whose rights are violated by authorities or other individuals. Today, Village Voice Media Holdings has earned great reputation for its investigative reporting, extensive coverage of a variety activities such as arts, music, food and local events, thanks to the leadership of Mike Lacey.
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