I’ve never really worked anywhere else. It’s been my professional life. I’ve written for the Phoenix. I’ve sold ads for the Phoenix. Delivered the paper and promoted the paper. That’s the perspective from which I write. The average American business enterprise lasts about 25 years. And we’ve made it to 40. It’s been — and remains — a very special privilege to be the publisher of the Boston Phoenix, as well as the Providence Phoenix, Stuff@night magazine, and the Portland Phoenix. Along the way the Phoenix family has grown with other ventures, and as a result I’ve assumed the corporate titles of chairman and CEO of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group (PM/CG). But in my heart of hearts, I consider myself first and foremost a publisher. And I am as awed today by the responsibilities of the work as I was in my younger days — probably more so. The act of balancing the public trust of our readers with a commercial responsibility to our advertisers is at the heart of what I do. There is no other “job” I can imagine doing that could be as challenging or rewarding.
The odds were against us in 1966. It was 40 years ago when Boston After Dark, the precursor to the Phoenix, hit the streets as a four-page, free arts-and-entertainment weekly distributed on college campuses in and around Boston. In emotional terms, comprehending that we’re still here while wondering where the years have gone is a complicated affair. But it is exquisitely simple to understand why, after all of these decades, we continue to publish and prosper as an integral part of Boston’s vital media community. Stated simply, it’s all about the thousands of extraordinary women and men, on both the content and business sides, who have dedicated themselves to making our enterprise meaningful and viable. The cover images chosen for this week’s special 40th-anniversary issue reflect — in the broadest sense — the sorts of stories we’ve chosen to cover over the years. It’s a mosaic of our publishing sensibility.
I won’t, but I could easily list the names of our alumni and current staff who are among the luminaries of contemporary American journalists — men and women who have distinguished themselves on the pages of the Phoenix and elsewhere, locally and nationally, as quality writers and editors covering politics, arts, and popular culture. These are exceptional people who, in the aggregate, have not only won many hundreds of distinguished journalism awards for our newspapers (including a Pulitzer), but have opened our readers’ eyes to provocative ideas about our national life and community affairs. They have also prodded leaders of our political, social, and cultural institutions to respond more receptively and justly to the needs of our citizens. Throughout it all we have been praised as well as excoriated for what we have published; and I am proud of both reactions.
I have often said that, while starting any enterprise is difficult, sustaining one over decades is nearly impossible. It is no secret that in the current communications revolution — where “new media” are challenging newspapers and “terrestrial” radio, if not threatening them with extinction — I remain confident that the Phoenix and its PM/CG family of media entities, in their “old,” new, and even yet to be discovered forms, will remain meaningful and viable. My faith is well-placed, borne out by our still-increasing readership and the rapidly growing number of “users” of our Web site, thePhoenix.com.