What can people do when their local media has a slanted view of current events? For Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the answer: start their own newspaper. Lacey started the newspaper in the 70s with some friends.
At first, it was just a campus newspaper that challenged the ultra-conservative viewpoints of the local media.
As the paper grew in popularity, Lacey dropped out to focus his efforts on growing the business. When the paper, Phoenix New Times, became more than a campus newspaper, Jim Larkin joined the team. Over the next few years, the two college dropouts built one of the most esteemed newspapers in Arizona.
Later, they co-founded another media company called Village Voice Media. Unlike Phoenix New Times, VVM was a conglomerate of 17 like-minded newspapers. They started building up the VVM roster when they purchased Westword in 1983. After that, they purchased LA Weekly, Miami New Times, and Village Voice. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase
No matter what newspaper they purchased, all of Village Voice Media Holdings maintained a high standard when it came to reporting. The entire conglomerate also maintained a steadfast commitment to the First Amendment. Over the years, VVM won countless journalistic awards and attracted more than 60 million monthly readers.
As successful as Lacey and Larkin are, they’ve faced tremendous trauma at the hands of a self-centered sheriff. Their jobs are to tell the people of Arizona the truth about anything that may affect them. In the case of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, anyone who’s Hispanic needed to know about Arpaio.
Joe Arpaio was a patriarch of much of the anti-Mexican fear-mongering that plagued Arizona. His personal dislike of Latinos went beyond just hosting a few rallies and secret meetings. New Times actually proved his systematic harassment and abuse of the Hispanic community. He would even unconstitutionally detain Latinos for his own enjoyment.
Of all the horrible things he did, he didn’t get into trouble until he arrested Lacey and Larkin. Until that moment, no one outside of New Times and its readers knew what he was doing. When the nation found out that a racist sheriff arrested to people reporting on him, there was national outcry.
Lacey and Larkin were immediately released. They also filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. After being awarded $3.7 million, they created the Frontera Fund to benefit the Hispanic community in Arizona.