As reported at boston.com, the Boston Phoenix
(the urge to add the adjective “venerable” is almost irresistible), is closing
. I’ll leave it to Ted to post (if he wants) about the death of alt-media in the United States.
The thing I wanted to comment on is the hopeless passivity of the media. Joseph P. Kahn (as the Boston Globe is still owned by the New York Times, middle initials are required) writes a first sentence that makes me want to throw my computer against a wall: “In a poignant signal of a fast-changing media landscape, The Boston Phoenix sent out a short and simple tweet Thursday afternoon: ‘Thank you Boston. Good night and good luck.'”
Poignant? Fast-changing? Yes, absolutely. But could we stop channeling Counselor Troi? How about a little anger, a little rage, rage against the dying of the light? Nope, not in a Globe write-up! (I wonder how calm Mr. Kahn will be when the Globe disappears in a few more years. I suspect his level of calm will be directly proportional to how close he is, right now, to retirement and a Globe pension.)
Ten paragraphs in comes this, from staff writer Chris Faraone: “It’s sad, but also not. It’s not an anger thing. Everyone’s really proud. We went as hard as you could to the end.” Why isn’t it an anger thing? Why the hell is no one angry? You’re out of a job! And not just any crappy job. You were working for the Boston Phoenix. You were at an organization that pissed off politicians for decades! Just because you can’t point to anyone to blame doesn’t mean you can’t be angry. When did everyone turn into Kwai Chang Caine?
And then comes the most vile part of the whole thing: the “things-aren’t-so-bad” BS deluge.
Tiffany Shackelford, executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in Washington shows up in the story to comment that even though a “storied brand” like the Boston Phoenix is gone, the alternative news industry remains healthy.“Many of our papers are actually improving circulation,” she said. “This [closure] is not indicative of the larger health of the industry. I don’t think any of our other publications are in danger of closing.”Don’t worry, kids, it’s a small hole. And besides, the ship’s unsinkable.
I’m sure some good bands play up there, I’m sure some political scandal is about in crisp, wintery Portland. But it ain’t Boston. And when the alt-media is banished to the third-tier cities, how, exactly, will it be relevant? How, exactly, will the best talent move to larger alternative publications and break the bigger stories?