RIP Boston Phoenix

The Boston Phoenix is no more.

Play it off like it’s not a big deal, or you saw it coming, or your knew the switch to a glossy cover was a bad idea; all those things may be true, but it doesn’t mean much now. Not to be too dramatic, but waking up this morning, Boston is missing a little piece of its soul.

There’s no point in me trying to eulogize the newspaper, a task better left to others who will do a much better job somewhere else. The reasons for its closure are pretty stark, and what’s done is done. Unfortunately this is the current reality for local journalism, where excellent writers and editors are being asked to do more with less and less and less until…

But, for once, this isn’t meant to be soaked in pessimism.

Instead, we’d like to send off the Phoenix with a tip of the cap and a sincere thank you for 46 years of existence. Also a thank you to the awesome, passionate Phoenix staff, some of whom we’ve been lucky enough to talk, drink and work with in various capacities over the last five years. People like Derek Kouyoumjian, Shaula Clark, Barry Thompson, Ariel ShearerMelissa Ostrow and others, people I personally still like besides the fact that their publication nominated FratRap.tumblr for a “Best Website” award. I mean, they published a thinly veiled blatant college creep show fantasy story with the byline “Sleezy Treez,” got God’s sake. How are you not going to miss a paper like that?

Of course, the one person who hasn’t been mentioned is Chris Faraone, tattooed co-founder turned sometimes (by that I mean never) JTTS blggr. His absence here was telling: instead of bearing the cross for hardcore underground hip hop in the face of internet haters, he was traveling the country, writing a book, winning awards, hosting art shows, covering politics wasted and killing at least one prominent conservative pundit (that we know of). I was there when it first popped off…

In October 2008, I was into my second month of crashing at a friend’s place near Boston College campus on Comm Ave, a shining example of the consequences of poor planning. As the proud owner of a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from BU since June, I had assumed no more than three months–which was not coincidentally the amount of time left on my apartment lease–would be necessary for me to find at very least a full-time entry-level job as a proverbial big city writer. Yada yada yada…I’m crashing at my friend’s place three months later, and only through his amazing success as a full-time online poker player am I able to give myself an extra two months to either find something remotely resembling a real job or head home in defeat.

It was around that time when I got a call from Chris. He told me that he had just been offered and accepted the job which I knew he had spent the past few days or weeks fighting for: staff writer at the Boston Phonenix. After paying his dues as a writer–hunting publications for paychecks, never saying no to a story, mastering the often thankless grind of chasing stories–he was finally getting his due with a proper writing job, a staff writing job. I don’t know if he felt the same way, but it felt important to me, a sign that the same privilege I was seeking–to be able to write for a living and make a living by writing–was still possible, however modest the financial gains.

More importantly, that’s when Chris introduced me to his then-current editor at the Boston Herald. I picked up his beat as a freelancer, which allowed me to stay in Boston and go from writing stories in exchange for Upper Crust gift certificates so I didn’t have to spend money on food (true story) and eat pizza three times daily, to writing for a daily big city newspaper and getting paid for it.

Five years later, I’m still writing for a living, and I’m almost positive that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that event. The Phoenix gained a great reporter, and the Herald gained…well, just me.

But again, let’s not get stuck in pessimism. I have full confidence that the elemental force that is Chris Faraone is too powerful for any single newspaper to contain, and that as long as there’s a story to report, he’s going to keep on reporting it–it only remains to be seen what drugs he’ll be doing it on.

In the meantime, wanna blog for us?

9 Responses to “RIP Boston Phoenix”

  1. David Day Says:

    Also still exists and many Phoenix writers came from the Dig, including Chris Faraone and yourself. I understand the Dig didn’t pay writers fairly (if at all) but it provided its core staff with jobs and made writing a hell of a lot of fun.

    The Phoenix went under because it was terribly mismanaged by a publisher who didn’t give a shit about his staff or his paper. I’m sorry to vent here but I am tired of people not mentioning the Dig and not calling out Stephen Mindich and his son Brad. More people should be pissed off at them particularly, not calling it the “end of journalism” or the “death of the alt-weekly.”

    The reason the Phoenix is out of business is because of Stephen Mindich. If that’s not clear to everyone I feel it’s my duty to say so.

    If Boston is missing a piece of its soul its because Stephen Mindich sucked it out. RIP Phoenix but this is a case of the Mindich’s taking their money and running. Plain and simple.

  2. el caballero Says:

    This isn’t meant as a slight at the Dig. This is meant as a few thoughts on the Phoenix. Boston has one less major media voice, one which the writers on this site have had varying degrees of association with over the years, including one obviously who just lost his job and livelihood. I’m thinking of that, not about whether the Dig was fun or paid writers or not. Not the time or place.

    If you (or anyone else) have some articles/documentation/etc. regarding the mismanagement by the Mindich family then I would love to hear about that as it hasn’t been discussed much. From what I read, the paper was being floated on Mindich’s credit for the last few months so it actually should have been shuttered earlier.

  3. Trees Says:

    Is Stephen Mindich the founder of the Phoenix or just the publisher? Who founded the Phoenix? I heard him on NPR a few months ago when they relaunched and he painted himself as a saint.

  4. Trees Says:

    Can we get a piece from Faraone on here giving his final thoughts on the Phoenix. I’m sure he has some good information to spread. I know for a fact he was working on a big story for months, and now his platform has disappeared.

  5. el caballero Says:

    Yes he was one of the founders

  6. DJ ON&ON Says:

    What does this have to do with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl?

  7. DJ ON&ON Says:

    Shouts to Chris.
    Like Marty said, attempting to poetically capsulize what Faraone and the Phoenix did for the city is futile.
    Chris’ stories helped expose a lot of fuckery going on in local government and the prison system, and he gave the voiceless a platform.

  8. tommee Says:

    Saw Chris out at Fresh Produce this saturday. He was meeting with and busy giving career counseling advice to other (now former) writers at the Phoenix. For as much shit as we give Chris – hats off to him for how he’s used his position at places like the Phoenix to do real good things for many of us and others.

    He will land on his feet – hopefully in a much better position that pays a lot more…

  9. Sleezy Trees Says:

    Yes, while this sounds like Chris has died and we are eulogizing him – I have to also say that Faraone is a legend. He’s one of the nicest dudes I know and has a great sense of humor to have withstood the years of torment for his horrible taste in hip hop we all have given him for the last 5 years on JTTS.

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