It's been a big week for the Village Voice - while the workers union and management fight over contracts, Ashton Kutcher and the newspaper are battling it out on Twitter.
The Village Voice's current cover story - Real Men Get Their Facts Straight - interrogates statistics cited by Kutcher in television PSAs about child prostitution. Kutcher claims there are between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today - a popular statistic touted by several news reports on sex trafficking. The Voice report argues that the real number is significantly lower - with an average of 827 arrests per year in the United States.
Kutcher responded to the story- which is overall an unlfattering portrait of the actor and his activist efforts - by blasting the newspaper in a series of angry Tweets last night, which the Village Voice eventually responded to, and the Twitter battle rages on today.
Of course, the Village Voice has an interest in altering the perception of child prostitution's prevalance: The Village Voice classified ads, which are a major source of revenue, are known to include an abundance of thinly-veiled solicitations involving sexual 'services' - any of which could theoretically be posted someone who is underage or someone representing a minor.
Kutcher addressed this concern in one of yesterday's tweets to the Village Voice: How many of your girls selling themselves in your classifieds are you doing age verification on?
The latest in the tweet volley has the Village Voice challenging Kutcher to retweet a link - if he's a real man - to the Village Voice article about his twitter tantrum.
All of this comes amidst a looming staff walkout: The Village Voice Media workers union has been threatening to go on strike this week if new contracts are not agreed upon between the union and management by Friday, and a contract negotiation meeting was to happen today.
The Village Voice journalists had already set up aTumblr - 'The Real Village Voice' - which would provide the usual content available from the newspaper in the event of a work stop, but would not prevents the publishers from receiving any advertising revenue.
The latest post on TheRealVoice.org says the previous contract will expire in twelve hours, and does not indicate that a strike or walkout has taken place yet. The union published a press release on June 28 that explains the contract dispute:
'Over the past three years, the Voice staff has been cut by an estimated 60%, and average annual salaries have markedly diminished. Management has so far played hardball with the union, refusing to make an offer, while demanding extensive concessions from the newspaper's staff, including a substantial, ever-increasing contribution to an inferior health plan, as well as the elimination of management's own contribution to employees' retirement account.'
The Village Voice is the nation's oldest and largest alternative newsweekly. Celebrated author Norman Mailer was one of its founders.