By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Big changes for the Phoenix and Stuff magazine

As most of you know, I’m a contributor to the Boston Phoenix, where I was on staff from 1991 to 2005. I wrote the cover story as recently as a few weeks ago. Given my longstanding ties, I present this without comment, except to express my hope that it will prove to be a good move.

The Phoenix remains vital to the fabric of the city. On a more personal level, I’ve still got a lot of friends over there. Good wishes and best of luck to everyone — including those who, sadly, are now moving on.

August 1, 2012 (Boston, MA) – The Phoenix Media/Communications Group, one of New England’s largest independently owned news companies, shakes up the region’s media landscape today with the exciting announcement of its plans to launch a new glossy weekly magazine for greater Boston called The Phoenix. When it hits the market in early fall 2012, The Phoenix will replace the media group’s existing Boston publications: STUFF magazine and The Boston Phoenix, which has served as one of the country’s regional leading alternative weeklies for over 45 years.

The Phoenix will redefine the 21st century alternative publication with the goal of providing a richer experience for the reader. Its content will combine the lifestyle appeal of STUFF with the journalistic prowess of The Boston Phoenix and it will give vital and fresh coverage of Boston’s life, culture, politics, music and style. With free distribution throughout greater Boston, the new format will allow the media group to better meet the needs and desires of readers and advertisers. Its design is being created in-house and will place a renewed emphasis on visuals – photography, illustrations and graphics will be bold and vibrant. Carly Carioli, Editor-in-Chief at The Boston Phoenix, will lead the editorial team at The Phoenix. Carioli has been with the company since 1993.

“It has been an exciting few months for The Phoenix Media/Communications Group; we are really thrilled to bring a new publication to Boston that will better serve the city. As a group that has delivered original news and served as cultural arbiters in New England for over four decades, it’s great to step back and change the focus of our platforms while keeping the integrity of our culture and quality of our output. We are exceptionally proud to be the first major market alternative weekly newspaper to make the change to glossy magazine format. We will also be creating a new online presence for The Phoenix that will complement that of, the online successor to WFNX-FM, where we break new, alternative musicas well as integrate content from the new Phoenix and the Company’s other resources” says Stephen Mindich, Founder and Chairman of The Phoenix Media/Communications Group.

The Phoenix Media/Communications Group’s The Providence Phoenix and The Portland Phoenix will remain in publication as alternative weekly newspapers.

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  1. I really hope they have further plans for the Providence and Portland editions other than just maintaining them as is. I don’t know about Portland, but the Providence Phoenix, aside from music listings and the main front page articles, seems lacking of late. Also, the Phoenix group’s web sites are feeling pretty dated.

  2. Paul Bass

    I’m kind of confused about what this new publication is — and what becomes of the mission of the Phoenix altweekly.

  3. L.K. Collins

    Good excuse to sneak in an increase the cover price with the impression of “value” without much more effort.

  4. Bob Gardner

    Whether the move works or not, that press release is a classic. “Exciting”,”really thrilled”, “Shakes up . .. the media landscape.”
    I’m glad to see they will be going for the “bold and vibrant” visuals and are resisting the temptation to make their visuals timid and lifeless.
    “. . . the lifestyle appeal of STUFF” I hope they don’t lose that.

  5. C.E. Stead

    What exactly is the future of ‘alternative’ papers? I remember the Worcester paper, too. Not sure the world needs another Boston Magazine.

    The old progressive Mother-Jonesy vibe is seen on places like Blue Mass and HuffPo, but does that mean that it’s no longer part of journalism per se? I recognize blogers as journalists – but they are sometimes journalists in search of an editor to apply standards and fact-checking as a newspaper (usually) does. They aren’t widely trusted for that reason until corroborated.

    Of course, argument can be made that the alternative weekly writers grew old, if not up, and cannibalized mainstream news to the point where conservative writers and thought are no longer part of most newsrooms.

    Perhaps the new ‘alternative’ journalism will be led by a latter-day Alex Keaton, with a conservative paper since the establishment is now progressive. My friend Tom Duggan and his upstart Valley Patriot newspaper come to mind.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @C.E.: It’s the same story as the rest of the newspaper world. The Phoenix has more than 100,000 print readers, and plenty of online readers. It’s the advertising. At a time when newspapers are struggling to find ways to get readers to pick up more of the cost, both in print and online, the Phoenix finds itself with free print and online products. Not a great place to be in.

  6. Mike Benedict

    It would seem to me that the alt-news world is one that is very well-suited to online distribution. By definition, the audience for that material is narrower, which means stitching together pieces in discrete (not discreet!) areas would potentially give it the mass to succeed. Whether any single geographic locale outside of a truly large metro area could sustain a print operation serving such a market is unlikely. I would think, however, Boston would be an exception because of its large number of colleges, which tend to mint individuals who are open to something other than the institutionalized biases of Fox News.

    All that said, isn’t the bloom off the rose for many online sites (Facebook included) when it comes to advertising? The bots those sites create to boost their clicks are well-documented.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: The Phoenix has put a lot into online. The reason it still has a free print edition is that the revenues exceed the costs. If they could make a go of it with online-only, I suspect they’d do it tomorrow.

  7. Ron Newman

    L.K. Collins – where do they say they plan to charge for the new merged publication? The two existing papers are free.

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