[UPDATED] Boston Phoenix is folding

The Boston Globe has an updated story that says the paper’s closing will put 50 people out of work. Executive editor Peter Kadzis tells Joseph P. Kahn that the general reaction among Phoenix staffers is “shell-shocked.”

There had been widespread apprehension about a shutdown on Wednesday, when the meeting was announced, Kadzis said, and staffers in Portland and Providence feared they might also get let go.

“Keeping the Phoenix afloat was costing Stephen more than $1 million a year,” Kadzis calculated. “He’s performed an incredible service to the community, and I don’t think most of the employees here realize how committed he’s been to keeping the paper going.”

Boston’s alt-weekly, founded in 1966, is closing immediately,

Publisher Stephen Mindich’s memo:

To: PM/CG Staff
From: SMM

I can state with certainty that this is the single most difficult communication I’ve ever had to deliver and there’s no other way to state it than straightforwardly –

As of now the Boston Phoenix has ceased publishing and wfnx.com will not continue as it is.

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.

What I can and will say is I am extremely proud, as all of you should be, of the highest standards of journalism we have set and maintained throughout the decades in all of our areas of coverage and the important role we have played in driving political and socially progressive and responsible agendas; in covering the worlds of arts and entertainment, food and fashion – always with a critical view, while at the same time promoting their enormous importance in maintaining a healthy society; and in advocating for the recognition and acceptance of a wide range of lifestyles that are so valuable for a vibrant society.

And finally, at least for this moment, I want to thank all of you – and the literally thousands of women and men before you, for lending your talents to our mission over the past 47 years – as I have always said – our staff has been our soul.

And obviously as well, my sincere gratitude to our millions of readers and tens of thousands of advertisers without whom none of what we did accomplish could have been possible or meaningful.

So, that’s it. We have had an extraordinary run.

Stephen M.Mindich
Publisher-CEO-Chairman
Phoenix Media/Communications Group

The release is after the jump.

The release

THE BOSTON PHOENIX to CEASE PUBLICATION

PORTLAND PHOENIX WILL CONTINUE to PUBLISH, as will PROVIDENCE PHOENIX, which will add four full-time positions together with several freelance slots.

Phoenix Media Ventures also to continue: plans to grow beyond current relationships with the Boston Celtics and Boston Marathon.

The Phoenix Media/Communications Group owner and publisher Stephen M. Mindich today announced a major reorganization. Among the changes:

With the issue dated March 15, The Phoenix, the 47 year old alternative arts and news weekly will cease print publication. The online issue slated for the week of March 22, will be the publication’s last.

The Portland Phoenix in Maine and the Providence Phoenix in Rhode Island will be unaffected. They will continue weekly publication.

The custom publishing unit of the PM/CG, likewise, will stay in business. as will MassWeb Printing, based in Auburn MA.
Mindich announced these changes at a staff meeting at 2 pm today. Freelance contributors were notified subsequent to that.

The Gordon Law Firm has been retained to “Assist for the Benefit of Creditors.”

PM/CG Executive Editor, Peter Kadzis, a 25-year veteran of Phoenix, said this: “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.”

“The tragedy” wrote Boston Phoenix Editor Carly Carioli in a blog post, “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.”

* September 2012: Boston Phoenix goes glossy, adjusts to changing times (jimromenesko.com)

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