Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/15/14
You literally can’t even give away a print publication nowadays. After 47 years of publication, on Thursday The Boston Phoenix announced that the March 15 issue would be its very last, killing Boston’s primary alternative weekly. While it’s true that the industry of journalism as a whole is currently undergoing complete upheaval, this decision comes only months after the magazine radically redesigned its format, more closely imitating a glossy magazine after merging with Stuff Magazine. Without getting overly sentimental, The Phoenix was the kind of place where Bob Ryan could get a quote printed that he couldn’t in The Globe. It was where George Kimball made his name, Bill Simmons began his career and Charlie Pierce developed his voice. And now, it’s gone. “I honed my chops,” Pierce wrote on Friday for Grantland. “I became a generalist. I learned everything I know about being a journalist, and almost everything I know about being me in the world.” “… What’s important is that we all were part of the outlaw spirit of Boston journalism, the one that went back to colonial pamphlets and the Liberator.” If anyone tries to tell you that journalism is dying, well, that’s not exactly accurate. In many ways, there’s more thirst for knowledge of the world than ever before, and more interesting stories out there in a world that’s growing ever more complicated by the day. Even the aggregation business models — which we’ll get back to — which are said to be a direct threat to journalism, have only commodified facts facts even more. However, the problem is that many of the traditional print publications, that for so long saw only incremental changes in their business model, just weren’t capable of dealing, for whatever reasons, with the sudden changes brought on by the digital age. The Internet, in general, has become what Napster was to the music industry — if you want a certain product, you don’t have to obtain it from the source trying to sell it to you. But the plain fact is that there’s no less of a demand for that product, the news, in this case. In fact, that demand is only higher than it was during the heyday of print, whenever that was. And while outlets like The Phoenix, The Sporting News and SPIN Magazine flail about, other sources for information like The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Gawker thrive. And it all goes back to a simple lesson: adapt or die. One of the fascinating things about writing for NESN.com is that, independent of the larger television network, our New Media department is profitable. Now, a large part of this is due to the fact that we write aggregated stories about Dennis Rodman visiting North Korea and Tiger Woods’ personal life and — despite the protests of people commenting via social media — the plain fact is that you, the reader, gravitates towards this stuff in abundance. The numbers don’t lie. But, at the same time, the fact that we have modes of driving traffic and staying profitable also gives me the opportunity to speak on more meaningful topics, such as (I hope) I’m doing right now. But while I’m not saying that it’s the role of a publication like The Phoenix to chase trends on social media and occasionally appeal to the lowest common denominator (nor should it be), it’s also clear that they — along with scores of other dead and dying print media outlets — fail to heed any lessons of why a relatively small operation such as NESN.com gets nearly as much online traffic as The Boston Globe and Boston.com’s sports sections combined. Take Sports Illustrated, for instance. Seeing the writing on the wall, about a year ago the company drastically reorganized its online presence and implemented the Tracking Blog, which is basically an aggregated website following sports news trends. Basically, the attempt is to be much more timely, as opposed to the magazine’s more highfalutin journalistic aims. “The Phoenix was the first place that paid me to write in my own voice, and gave me enough space to do my thing,” Simmons wrote on his Facebok page. “I can’t believe they screwed it up so badly that they couldn’t even turn it into a successful website, that’s almost impossible. … Print is dying because just about everyone in power for newspapers/mags from 1999 through 2010 failed to understand that the Internet wasn’t going away, and they either had to adjust or die. They didn’t adjust.” If even Bill Simmons gets it, these concepts shouldn’t be so difficult to grasp. And he’s absolutely right that it’s absurd that someone couldn’t turn The Phoenix’s brand into a viable website with at least some of the same journalistic goals as its predecessor. It’s hard not to figure there was some incompetence there. Either way, for no other reason than the inability a publication so set in its business model that it was incapable of adapting to the realities of the times, we’ve been robbed of one of the few publications keeping the “outlaw spirit” of journalism alive. And we are all worse off for it. Photo via Facebook/Boston Phoenix
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Russell Wilson on contract: 'It's going to work out'

Kentucky seeks one kind of history, Coach K makes another

Matt Stafford's fiancee rips newspaper over article

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Frozen Four: Providence earns first bid since 1985

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Discussions to bring NFL team to L.A. are progressing

Report: Chris Mullin expected to take St. John's job

Michigan State beats Louisville, punches Final Four ticket

Ex-NHL player viciously attacks opponent before game

Rick Barnes a possibility for Tennessee coaching job?

Report: NFL looking into Bill Belichick's camera ideas

Final Four preview: How can every team win?

WrestleMania 31 results: Rollins cashes in, Rousey appears

Five soon-to-be NBA free agents with a lot on the line

WATCH: Russell Wilson hits home run during Rangers BP

Hooked 'em: Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Adam Morrison trolled fan who made JJ Redick comment

Jim Harbaugh finished fourth in student government election

WATCH: Notre Dame gets warm reception upon return home

WATCH: Kris Letang hospitalized after hit

Aaron Rodgers, sportswriter get into it over on-court access

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

CC Sabathia goes off about spring stats

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.