The Phoenix Media/Communications Group (PMCG) announced today that, after 36 years, it will stop publishing the venerated alt-weekly The Providence Phoenix. This news comes a little over a year after publisher Stephen Mindich and COO Everett Finkelstein announced the closing of the sister publication The Boston Phoenix. The Portland Phoenix, in Maine, remains in operation.
In 1988, PMCG entered RI with the purchase of the local alt paper The New Paper, which started in 1979. The name was changed in the ‘90s. Next week’s issue – to be released October 16 – will be a special farewell issue, chronicling the history of the periodical over the decades. It will be their final issue.
In a statement, the publishers describe a protracted financial battle to keep the paper afloat in a struggling economy. “It was my deep desire to continue publishing The Providence Phoenix and keep its extraordinary legacy alive,” Mindich writes. Financial realities forced the paper to take a different path.
The Phoenix papers counted among their mottos the phrase, “Speak truth to power.” That is one of the guiding principles of alternative publications nationwide – to present voices and opinions that are alternatives to the ever-more-homogenized, consolidated, co-owned and corporate voices of the “mainstream” media. For countless local writers and thinkers, The Phoenix showed us how to do that – to think about what’s not being covered, to consider alternatives, and to speak thoughts that are true, whether popular or not. Modern American media needs this spirit more now than ever before, and to lose a voice in support of that cause is a loss for all of us.
That’s especially true for Rhode Island, a state equally renowned for its art and entertainment, and for its corruption – a cultural Jekyll and Hyde with a propensity for denial and self-delusion. Our state needs as many voices as possible to remind us of our awesome aspects that deserve to be celebrated – and to point out when we’re full of shit.
In his statement, Mindich says of closing the paper, “We do so with great pride in knowing that during the decades we have been here we have made a difference, and for that we should all be truly proud.” As readers and other voices that sometimes run counter to the mainstream media miasma, we agree. We are proud to have known you, Phoenix, and salute the profound impact you’ve had on our community for so long.