In a sad day for anyone who cares about the news, one of the great alternative news weeklies -- The Boston Phoenix -- is closing, ending a long run of delivering penetrating political coverage and superb reporting on arts and entertainment. Sister papers in Providence and Portland, Maine, will continue.
Phoenix editor Peter Kadzis offered this statement:
“I started reading the paper when I was 14 years old and had the fun and challenge of running it for 20 years or so. Political Boston, arts Boston, just won’t be the same. We are a text book example of sweeping market-place change. Our recent switch to a magazine format met with applause from readers and local advertisers. Not so, with a few exceptions, national advertisers. It was the decline of national advertising dollars over the years that made the Boston Phoenix economically unviable. Providence and Portland, however, don’t suffer from that problem. The local advertising market is sufficient to support those publications. You can see why Warren Buffett favors small market papers over their big city brothers and sisters.”
This story strikes close to home; I began reading the Phoenix as a college kid in Boston and spent almost a decade as news editor of the Providence Phoenix, working closely with Kadzis and other colleagues in the home office.
Over the years, the Phoenix producing a glittering array of alums who went on to broader fame, including author Susan Orlean, Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal, and Scott Lehigh of The Boston Globe, to name just a few. The paper's political reporter, David Bernstein, is one of the best in the business. And the authors of the bygone "Don't Quote Me" media column -- from the late, great Dave O'Brian through Dan Kennedy and Mark Jurkowitz -- had a big influence on other writers.
I remain grateful to Kadzis and Phoenix owner Stephen Mindich for hiring me in the first place, and for supporting a particular kind of journalism. As I wrote in my farewell column in 2009:
I've always felt the Phoenix takes for granted that its readers are highly literate, voraciously interested in an array of subjects, and capable of appreciating sharp political analysis and arts and entertainment coverage dished out with a bit of attitude.
Mindich says this, via statement:
As everyone knows, between the economic crisis beginning in 2007 and the simultaneous radical changes in the media business, particularly as it has affected print media advertising, these have been extremely difficult times for our Company and despite the valiant effort by many, many past and current staff to attempt to stabilize and, in fact, reverse our significant financial losses, we have been unable to do so and they are no longer sustainable.
Because of their smaller scale of operations and because we believe that they remain meaningful publications to their communities, with some necessary changes to each, it is our intent to keep the Providence and Portland Phoenixes operating and to do so for as long as they remain financially viable. The same is true for Mass Web Printing Co.
I cannot find the words to express how sad a moment this is for me, and I know, for you as well, so I won’t try.
My sympathy goes out to Kadzis, Mindich and everyone affected by this.