The Boston Phoenix Is Closing Immediately
The Boston Phoenix will put out its final issue March 22, after which it will shut its doors for good, according to a company statement. Though this isn’t a sunny time for newspapers, or alt-weeklies in particular, the sudden news is still shocking and very, very sad. In the statement, owner Stephen Mindich wrote:
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.
When the Phoenix launched a glossy magazine-like redesign last year, Peter Vigneron wrote a piece for Boston laying out the tough financial road head. The glimpse at the financial trial the revamped publication faced gives a good sense of the considerations that probably went into today’s news. Vigneron wrote:
People told me that to make money the magazine would need to boost revenue in the second half of 2012 by between 25 and 30 percent. The first issue of the redesign ran to 118 pages, but the following six issues came in at around 90, roughly a third of which were devoted to ads. That ratio, according to several people with knowledge of the Phoenix’s advertising rate base and financial situation, is simply not enough to keep the company afloat.
Details are thin just now, but it looks like the Phoenix wasn’t able to meet those demands. The paper has a long history of producing talent thats gone on to fill the ranks of some of the nation’s top critical outposts, and to this day remains an awesome source for politics and arts coverage. Current editor Carly Carioli made that fact apparent in a blog post:
The tragedy is that it feels like we’re going out at the top of our game. As I write this our best journalists are where they belong: in the field. David Bernstein is in Washington, interviewing Elizabeth Warren for what would have been the next issue’s cover story. Music editor Michael Marotta is heading up a team of photographers and writers covering SXSW. Among those with him is Liz Pelly, who arrived in Austin direct from a DIY music festival in Mexico. Our next issue would also have included an important essay by 350.org’s Bill McKibben on the Democratic Senate primary between Ed Markey and Steve Lynch — and its deep importance to preventing the expansion of the KXL pipeline.
Sad news indeed.