BREAKING: Boston Phoenix, WFNX.com closing immediately

Boston Phoenix will reportedly close immediately. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI
Boston Phoenix will reportedly close immediately. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI

The Boston Phoenix and its online radio station, WFNX.com, is closing immediately, as they are no longer financially viable due to “significant financial losses,” the company announced today.

The 47-year-old alternative arts and news weekly tweeted this afternoon, “Thank you Boston, good night and good luck,” and its owners released a statement that said tomorrow’s issue will be its last. Furthermore March 22 will be the publication’s last online issue.

Phoenix Media/Communications Group owner and publisher Stephen M. Mindich said the economic crisis that began in 2007 and the simultaneous radical changes in the media business, particularly in print media advertising, is to blame for the company’s downfall. Mindich announced the news at a staff meeting at 2 p.m. today, and freelance contributors were notified subsequent to that.

Executive Editor, Peter Kadzis, a 25-year veteran of the Phoenix, said that staff members were “shell shocked” after hearing the news Thursday afternoon, “especially the younger staff members.”

“People are very close here so there is a strong mutual support system. People have done good work. They are proud of it. And I think they realize that this will stand them in good stead as they move forward looking for their next gig,” Kadzis said. “In journalism, a stint at the Phoenix tends to be worth something.”

Mindich released a statement today saying that the paper had “an extraordinary run,” and extending “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.”

The weekly magazine recently revamped its layout, and has been on stands since 1966. Its sister publications in Providence and Portland will remain open.

In a statement, Kadzis said: “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.”

According to its online biography, the publication started off as a four-page arts-and-entertainment alternative newsweekly that has since grown into one of the largest publications of its kind in the country:

“The Phoenix is nationally known for its award-winning, incisive journalism and publishes the most comprehensive arts-and-entertainment listings of any paper in New England.

Over the years, the Phoenix has received many awards for excellence in journalism, including honors from the New England Press Association, the Penny-Missouri Newspaper Awards, the American Bar Association Gavel Awards, and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. In 1994, Phoenix classical-music writer Lloyd Schwartz was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

In 1988, the Phoenix got into expansionist gear by acquiring the NewPaper in Rhode Island. In 1993, the NewPaper was re-christened the Providence Phoenix. In September of 1999, the paper extended its reach into Maine and Southern New Hampshire with the publication of the Portland Phoenix. Today, total Phoenix circulation is 253,000.

The Phoenix Web site features 90% of the paper’s content posted online every week, and it is searchable and archived. We’ve won a host of critical awards for both our layout and content.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



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