One of the many wonderful things about living in Greater Boston is the abundance of community and neighborhood newspapers — something we take for granted, but that is rare in other parts of the country.
So it was sad news when Dorchester Reporter managing editor Bill Forry wrote on Thursday that his competition, the Dorchester Argus-Citizen, had folded, along with its sister papers. A follow-up in today’s Boston Globe by Patrick Rosso tallies the damage: in addition to the Argus-Citizen, the end of the road came for the South Boston Tribune, the Jamaica Plain Citizen and the Hyde Park Tribune.
I don’t know specifically what happened to those family-owned papers. In Dorchester, at least, it seemed that the Reporter had long since eclipsed the Argus-Citizen as that neighborhood’s primary news source. The other neighborhoods have feisty alternatives as well, including the Jamaica Plain Gazette, South Boston Online and the Hyde Park Bulletin.
In general, though, small community weeklies are beset by the same advertising trends that have devastated the rest of the newspaper business. Such papers may not lack for readers, but classified ads have long since moved to Craigslist, and the big box stores that now dominate the landscape simply don’t advertise the way mom-and-pop shops did when every neighborhood had a vibrant retail strip.
At a time when giant newspaper chains own most papers, both the Argus-Citizen and the Reporter are throwbacks. The Reporter was founded by Ed and Mary Forry in 1983, and Bill is their son. Bill is married to state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, which is indicative of the paper’s deep roots in the community, even though it creates dilemmas in covering certain types of stories.
The Reporter also has a well-designed website, put together by Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub.
Writing about the competition’s demise, Bill Forry had this to say:
We’re sad to see that another publication’s time has apparently come to an end. We wish the best for the Horgan family — who lost their father Dan, the papers’ longtime operator, last year. The Argus-Citizen will certainly be remembered for all of the stories it told for many years under his watch. They will live on in microfilm at the BPL and serve as an important record of what it was like to live here.
We salute the men and women who made the Tribune papers part of our community’s history.
Ave atque vale!