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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Flight of the Phoenix

It hits you a little harder when a newspaper you grew up with comes to the end of the road.

The death of the Boston Phoenix is a huge loss for Boston, journalism and a sign of personal mortality. The fact that it probably won't hit a vast majority of Bostonians the same way is one of the reasons it is folding.

I'm partly to blame, me and thousands if not more like me. I didn't pick up a copy of the paper for years, certainly not until it shifted to a free publication. And I am one of those folks who consider ads necessary evils, space fillers to be glossed over and definitely not clicked.

But the Phoenix was always on my to do list, from the late, lamented Don't Quote Me column that launched media criticism in Boston to the fact that the incomparable David Bernstein's Talking Politics blog is listed in my iPhone's web browser.

There were times when I thought about working there, even though my vow of journalistic poverty was more than adequately fulfilled by a news organization that bit the dust as a credible outlet two decades ago.

The Phoenix was not doomed when it shifted from newsprint to glossy magazine six months ago. It was not even doomed when it became a free publication financed by the sex ads (among other things) in the back.

The genre was always shaky (anyone remember the Real Paper, erstwhile competitor until it faltered and was swallowed up by the then thriving Phoenix).

It was more likely doomed by the shift in society and technology. Conceived as an arts newspaper with listings and reviews, it added hard-hitting journalism and did itself proud with a fair number of scoops.

But the march from newsprint to television, to desktop, laptop and eventually hand-held -- and the concurrent change in America's desire for any kind of journalism, let alone the "alternative" kind -- was glaring hand-writing on the wall.

The mythical Phoenix had the ability to rise from the ashes, Sadly, that is not likely to happen with the Boston Phoenix.

But some journalism outlet ought to snatch up its talented writers. Fast.



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