Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lessons Learned From the Folding of the 'Boston Phoenix'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Today, the Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly that has been in operation since 1966, announced today that they'd be folding up shop.

The announcement has triggered a number of responses and lamentations, but the one that's struck the deepest chord so far today has been this account by former Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle, at the Coachella Valley Independent.

In it, he spells out his hopes he still holds for alternative publications in the digital age...and mentions that, once upon a time, Tucson could have lost him to Boston.

From the Coachella Valley Independent:

Diverse media voices are important to a community. I have seen this firsthand; in my hometown of Reno, Nev., I was lucky enough to edit the Reno News & Review in my mid-20s, and watched the arts scene grow in Reno along with the paper. I saw it in Las Vegas, where I worked for CityLife. And I saw it in Tucson, where the Tucson Weekly is, in every way, an important piece of the fabric of the community.

Just like the Phoenix was in Boston. That important piece of fabric just got ripped out of Boston. And in its place will be a gaping hole.

The lesson here for those of us outside of Boston is this: Support good, ethical local media. Good, strong, entertaining journalism can make a community better.

I recently met with a local advertising-agency head; he was kind enough to take the time to allow me to introduce him to the Independent. At one point, our mission statement came up, and I spoke a bit about how I believed in quality reporting and writing, as opposed to the regurgitated-press-release-style of writing that’s far, far too prevalent in the Coachella Valley today.

He responded that while creative types like himself appreciate good writing and reporting, most businesses who are spending advertising dollars don’t care; instead, they care about getting their message out to the right customers, period, no matter the quality of what surrounds their ads.

I told him that while I was confident the Independent would indeed be a good fit for his clients’ customers, I was banking on the fact that I believe readers and advertisers still want quality journalism, too.

I hope to God I am right; I am betting my personal financial future on it. While, at first glance, the closure of the Boston Phoenix worries me, Peter Kadzis’ words about applause by readers and local advertisers—combined with the fact that the papers in Portland and Providence live on, and will even be adding staff—give me hope.

Part of why we've made a bit of a big deal regarding Circle K pushing us out in favor of AZ Weekly (which we're sure is a fine publication) is that members of the community that we serve might not get a chance to see content we're producing that the local daily isn't able to replicate, and that this paper out of Phoenix absolutely cannot replicate — at least, not without having someone cut them a check to do so.

It's why, in the wake of that loss, we've produced a map that directs you where to go around town to pick up copies of our paper, more often than not at local small businesses.

As a community, we're all in this together. And though there may be a number of folks out there who don't dig all of our content, who may be offended by some of the stories we run, the fact remains that we've got to try to support what's local—this city deserves at least that much.

If not, then Tucson's liable to be overtaken by Phoenix — and honestly, who the Hell wants that?

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