Backpage Founder, Alt-Weekly Entrepreneur, and Free Speech Warrior James Larkin Has Died
Larkin, 74, took his own life on Monday, just a little over a week before he was slated to stand trial for his role in running the web-classifieds platform Backpage.
Entrepreneur, journalist, and First Amendment warrior James Larkin has died, just a little over a week before he was slated to stand trial for his role in running the web-classifieds platform Backpage. Larkin, 74, took his own life on Monday.
A native of Maricopa County, Arizona, he leaves behind a wife and six children, as well as a string of newspapers and a legacy of fighting for free speech.
With journalist Michael Lacey, Larkin built the Phoenix New Times from an anti-war student newspaper into a broad—and still-thriving—record of Maricopa County culture and politics. New Times didn’t shy away from honest reporting on local law enforcement and power figures—including Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy—or on controversial issues like abortion, immigrant rights, or the 1976 murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles.
“I had just come back from school in Mexico City and had been exposed to the Mexican student movement in the late 60’s and early 70’s and they were really serious radicals, serious revolutionaries, and a lot of them were killed in the ensuing years, murdered by the Mexican government. I realized that politics were serious,” Larkin told Reason in 2018. “I felt that the paper…really had an opportunity to be politically powerful.”