In New Jersey, a group of activists have launched a campaign inspiring hundreds of Change.org members to help them pressure their local newspaper, the Asbury Park Press, to stop advertising for escort services and massage parlors. The APP's response was that they don't "censor" ads in their paper. So then why did they refuse to run an ad related to the anti-trafficking campaign? Is the Asbury Park Press willing to censor anti-trafficking messages but not commercial sex ads? Andrew Aylett and fellow activists from End Slavery Today in New Jersey were inspired to ask their local paper the Asbury Park Press (APP), to stop running ads for escort and massage parlor services -- industries notorious for human trafficking -- when the Washington Post joined other leading newspapers in eschewing such ads. But after sending in their requests that the company stop profiting from such ads, they received a terse letter from the APP's lawyer stating that the newspaper refused to "censor" advertising. However, when End Slavery Today attempted to place an ad referring to the APP's support of and profiting from the commercial sex industry, the newspaper refused to run it. So perhaps their "no censorship" policy extends only to industries which bring in large amounts of revenue, regardless of whether those industries support modern-day slavery.
Other middle school-style excuses the APP has used to justify their profits from industries rampant with human trafficking include claiming that the Yellow Pages also advertises for such operations (everyone else is doing it so why can't I) and directing the campaign organizers to take the issue up with law enforcement (it's someone else's fault, not mine). And almost comically, they compared their profiting from an illegal industry that enslaves millions of women and children around the world each year to a Bernie Madoff one-bad-apple scenario. If the situations were analogous, there would have been thousands of Bernie Madoffs across the country. And thousands of bad apples do spoil the bunch.
A phone call to APP's offices asking why they would refuse to run ads for an anti-trafficking campaign but not for an industry where trafficking is so prevalent were not returned. So we can't know for sure why the APP is refusing to join top publications like The Boston Globe, L.A. Times, and Washington Post in refusing to accept commercial sex ads. Maybe it's the money such ads bring in? Maybe it's just that the Asbury Park Press doesn't really care if they facilitate human trafficking or not. Or maybe they just haven't heard from enough readers who want them to take a stand against sex trafficking.
Join the activists of End Slavery Today in asking the Asbury Park Press to adopt the growing industry standard and stop advertising for escort agencies and massage parlors. Because if you're going to selectively censor, censor slavery and not the people fighting it.