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Goodbye, alt-weeklies

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by YankeeFan, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Two weeks ago, the 46-year-old alternative weekly the Boston Phoenix vanished in a puff of newsprint, leaving in its place a new publication called simply The Phoenix, a news-culture-lifestyle magazine as glossy as the new condominium buildings sprouting in once working-class Southie. The city’s name — the sense of place — simply disappeared. The loss was a long time for coming.

    For decades, alt-weeklies have been giving hell to incompetent mayors, evil developers, and lapdog city council members with the kind of righteous rage lots of us eventually outgrow. “It’s the best damn journalism in America outside of a monthly national magazine,” says Fran Zankowski, president of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN).

    But alt-weeklies weren’t just good journalism. For a long time they were also, as former Village Voice columnist Rosie Gray recently put it in an article posted on Buzzfeed, “the voice of the city and of a certain kind of New Yorker.” Or a certain kind of Bostonian, or Chicagoan or San Antonian. Their trademark mix of edgy culture and political coverage all but defined the mentality of a particular urban dweller — but also defined the city itself. “Simply to be seen with the [Village] Voice set you apart,” wrote New York magazine in 2005 of the paper’s heyday. “You were one of those people — hair too long, mouth too smart, not likely to go to the prom.”

    “Those people” still inhabit cities, but the local alt-weekly is rarely their voice. In Buzzfeed, Gray attributed this (in New York, at least) to the Village Voice’s current “frat boy” management: “They’re not Voice people,” she writes. (There also are not many people left at the Voice; defining writers like Robert Christgau, J. Hoberman and most recently music editor Maura Johnston have all been let go.)

    That may be the case, but as David Carr pointed out in the New York Times, the Internet is also to blame. “[T]he Voice that was ‘the voice of the city’ has not existed for many years,” he wrote, and indeed, there have probably been as many stories on the downfall of the alternative press as there have stories predicting the end of “Saturday Night Live.”

  2. Azrael

    Azrael Active Member

  3. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    I'm afraid it spoke volumes about the health and future of alt-weeklies when the owners of the Village Voice chain started taking a lot of flack for their backpage.com prostitute classifieds... and their response was to sell all the papers and keep backpage.com.
  4. The response by The Phoenix struck me as a tad hysterical.
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is true in bigger cities, but where I'm at, the alt-weeklies are kicking ass.

    Not only do they kill the daily paper(s) on entertainment and culture coverage, but the investigative reporting is often better than the staff-gutted daily paper.

    And without question, if there's a print ad targeting any consumer younger than 50, it's printed in an alt-weekly. There is NO reason to put that ad in a daily paper.
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