Mayor Mike McGinn has ordered all city departments to suspend all advertising in the Seattle Weekly, because of the paper’s connection to an online classified ad site frequently used for juvenile sex trafficking, Backpage.com.
The Seattle Weekly—and it’s parent company, Village Voice Media (VVM)—also ran several lengthy articles in the last two weeks, minimizing problems with juvenile prostitution in the United States.
This afternoon, Mayor McGinn sent an email—obtained by Seattlecrime.com—to his communications director, expressing frustration with the Seattle Weekly/VVM.
“They are still playing games with the numbers and underreporting” problems with juvenile prostitution, McGinn wrote. “I might change my mind after we meet with them next week, but for now I want everything pulled. They are just dead wrong on this.”
Minutes later, McGinn’s office sent out a letter to city department heads, requesting information on any current advertising contracts with the weekly newspaper, and advising all departments that any advertisements in the Weekly should be suspended “until further notice.”
It’s not clear from the email what city departments currently advertise in the Weekly, but one source tells Seattlecrime the Seattle Center frequently runs ads in the paper.
Mayor McGinn and his staff are scheduled to meet with Village Voice Media management next Friday.
Update: We just got comment on the mayor’s edict from Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely via email:
“Our representatives from Backpage are hopeful the meeting with the mayor next week will produce positive results, and help educate him on how closely Backpage works with law enforcement agencies around the country to help address the problem of underage sex trafficking. Seattle Weekly has made numerous attempts in recent days to contact his office in the wake of disagreement over statistics his own police department provided us for our story, and those calls have gone unreturned. So we look forward to the mayor’s office gaining a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the issue and how Backpage does business.”
Update @ 6:55: The city tells estimates value of the ad partnership between the Seattle Center and Weekly at $158,121.