Michael Lacey was born in Newark, N.J. and resided there until the 60s when he left to study at Arizona State University. In 1970, Lacey and some of his school mates dropped out after publishing Phoenix New Times, a paper that spoke against the conservative coverage of campus protests by local media papers.
The Journey Towards Prosperity
Lacey was the executive editor of the New Times while Jim Larkin, his partner, was in charge of advertisements. The free weekly publication increased its circulation and gained prominence for its wide coverage of political and social issues.
By 1983, New Times had managed to purchase Westword, a news and arts paper. Lacey and Larkin continued expanding their business and in a short while they had acquired a conglomerate of 17 papers including the Miami New Times, LA Weekly, and the famous Village Voice of New York City.
On October 18, 2007, Lacey and his assistant were arrested and jailed for a publication in Phoenix New Times. The publication stated that there were grand jury subpoenas targeting the writers, editors, and readers of the paper. Following public demand for their release, the charges against them were dropped and they were set free 24 hours later.
The subpoena was quashed and the grand-jury inquiry was dismissed. An investigation into the matter showed that the warrants of arrest were fake and a product of a witch-hunt by a vengeful prosecutor who circumvented legal safeguards.
Lacey and Larkin did not lay this matter to rest. They pursued a lawsuit seeking damages for wrongful arrest. In 2013, their case was settled with a $3.75 million award. The business partners opened a fund, Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, and dedicated it to helping Latin Americans living in Arizona. Read more: Michael Lacey | Facebook and Michael Lacey | LinkedIn
The Victories of Lacey and Larkin
In the meantime, the Phoenix New Times was gaining popularity all around the U.S. The paper’s name was changed to “Village Voice Media “. The company earned a reputation for its magazine-style writing, intensive investigative reporting, thorough coverage of food, music, arts, films, and local events.
By 2012, VVM had managed to attract 9 million print reader and 56 million online readers per month. The company had also received hundreds of awards including the “Pulitzer Prize”. Lacey and Larkin later sold off VVM to a group of company executives in the same year.
From the humble beginnings of a free weekly edition, Lacey and Larkin managed to transform Phoenix New Times into a paper that connected with the issues facing Americans.
Through their dedication to the First Amendment, Lacey and Larkin set a good example to the media fraternity about what free press should be like.