Providence Phoenix to publish last issue next week

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Alt-weekly local newspaper the Providence Phoenix will cease publication next week after more than three decades in Rhode Island, its parent company announced Thursday.

The final issue of the Phoenix will be dated Friday, Oct. 17, and will be distributed the day before, Stephen Mindich, owner and publisher of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, announced in a statement. Its sister paper, the Boston Phoenix, shut down in March 2013.

The Providence Phoenix said its “Farewell Issue” next week “will look back at the paper’s history, with comments from past writers, editors, and other luminaries,” as well as a portfolio of veteran Phoenix photographer Richard McCaffrey’s work. The free paper celebrated its 35th anniversary with a special issue and a well-attended party just last November.

Everett Finkelstein, Phoenix Media’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that “the unhappy reality of today’s media world is that the continual shrinkage of print advertising revenue and the increasing costs of producing an award-winning newspaper such as the Providence Phoenix made this no longer economically viable.”

The Providence Phoenix was founded in 1979 as the NewPaper and acquired by Phoenix Media in 1988. Its name was changed to the Providence Phoenix five years later.

The closing of the Phoenix is the latest significant change in the Rhode Island media landscape. The Providence Journal, the state’s largest daily newspaper, was recently bought by GateHouse Media, which is cutting jobs but says it plans to add others. There have also been ownership changes at the state’s top two television stations.

The statement Thursday did not mention what would happen to the third paper in the Phoenix Media/Communications Group stable, the Portland Phoenix of Maine.

Mindich, the owner and publisher, explained the decision to cease publication in a memo to staff.

“About a year and a half ago when the decision to shutter the Boston Phoenix was made, it was my deep desire to keep publishing the Providence Phoenix and keep its extraordinary legacy alive,” Mindich began.

“Sadly, after making massive budgetary adjustments in order to trim the costs of operations to a level where we could at least financially break-even, while also ensuring we could keep the paper’s editorial quality at the exceptional level we all demanded – the raw reality of continued losses month after month finally had to be confronted. After an enormous amount of analysis looking for resolutions and growth opportunities, along with profound personal soul-searching, I have made the difficult decision that the time has come to close the Providence Phoenix,” he continued.

“There is no adequate way to thank everyone here today, and all of those who over the years have devoted their efforts and amazing talents to this marvelous enterprise and to our Phoenix family,” he continued.

“When the final issue is put to bed, printed and distributed and we thank our many readers and advertisers, the City of Providence, and the State of Rhode Island – we do so with great pride in knowing that during the decades we have been here we made a difference, and for that we should all be truly proud,” he continued.

“Again, my deepest gratitude and sincerest thanks to each and every one of you,” he concluded.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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