His position for the syndicate -- editor of acquisitions and development -- has been eliminated. Over the past few years, Rall had successfully brought several alt-cartoonists into the fold at United, including Keith Knight ("The Knight Life") and the Weekly Dig's Tak Toyoshima ("Secret Asian Man"). Rall, who had held the acquisitions job since 2006, says he will still be drawing comics and writing columns for United.
The Globe's thesis is that "falling advertising revenue" is forcing weekly papers to "scale back dramatically." But Phoenix Media/Communications Group president Bradley Mindich says his publications don't fit that mold. "We are not cutting back," he tells reporter Johnny Diaz, who nevertheless intimates that the Boston Phoenix is using less color and sharing film reviews with its newly-acquired Spanish-language weekly to save money. "We actually have more color now" and cutting expenses is not the primary reason his papers are sharing content, Mindich tells AAN News. Weekly Dig publisher Jeff Lawrence says the story was mostly accurate but that it suffered from faulty framing: "Our business model is intentionally evolving -- not reacting to the economy," he tells AAN News.
Boston Phoenix staff writer David Bernstein was named Journalist of the Year by the New England Press Association. He also brought home two additional first-place awards for the Phoenix -- in the Investigative Reporting and Serious Columnist categories. "Mr. Bernstein's in-depth articles are compelling and hyper-relevant, challenging myths and assumptions with sharp, clear reporting and a highly readable writing style," the judges write. "Very impressive!" All in all, the Phoenix won another nine awards, including additional first-place wins for Convergence and Reporting on Religious Issues. Worcester Magazine took home six awards, including first-place finishes in the Personality Photo, Social Issues Feature Story and Local Ad: Color categories. Boston's Weekly Dig won four awards, finishing first in Educational Reporting, Infographics and Transportation/Commuter Reporting. The Portland Phoenix also won four awards, and placed first in the General News Story category.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is requiring that all news boxes on its property be easy to check visually for security concerns. Boston Phoenix circulation director Jim Dorgan tells AAN News that the policy goes into effect next Friday, Dec. 12. He says that, as a result of the new regulations, the Phoenix and its related publications had to purchase more than 200 new boxes, which each cost $85 more than a regular news box. He also says the MBTA is requiring the boxes be chained, and that 12 inches of space separate each box. The Weekly Dig's Jeff Lawrence tells us that while his paper will eventually buy some clear boxes and put them in MBTA stations, for the most part, distributing outside on city streets is still cheaper and the best strategy for the Dig.
When First Night, the annual New Year's Eve celebration, was trying to find an artist to create buttons for this year's festival, it turned to Boston's Weekly Dig. First Night spokeswoman Joyce Linehan tells the Boston Globe that once organizers decided they wanted an illustrator, they asked staffers at the paper for recommendations, since they work with illustrators all the time.
You read that right -- 2012. The Dig published two covers this week imitating the look and feel of Boston's two dailies, the Globe and the Herald, which predict the headlines four years into prospective McCain and Obama administrations. Managing editor Laura Dargus says the idea was to provide a little humor to the overwrought election. "I'm so sick of this already, so it seemed natural to just move beyond 2008 and have fun with 2012 before it, too, becomes overdone," Dargus says in a release.
The Dig's media column this week tackles last week's "story" by WBZ-TV "reporting" that a nude illustration on the Dig's cover had sparked an outrage in Boston. "Look, we get it. The end of the summer is a rough time in the local news cycle," the column reads. "This is when news outlets bring out their own special brand of made-up news. We no longer start wars Hearst-style (we'd kill for that kind of budget), so you have to find something and say, 'This is an outrage/issue!' and go up to everyone within a small radius and say, 'Isn't this an outrage/issue?' and then quote the three people who agree."
Local CBS affiliate WBZ-TV says this week's cover is "raising quite a controversy in Boston," and in classic local TV news style, finds three (count 'em, three!) residents to prove it, their reactions ranging from "weird" to "crazy" to "sick." The WBZ reporter even tracks down Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to give him a glimpse. "It's totally irresponsible to have a photo like this in a paper that's widely distributed around our city," Menino says. "Young children can see it. It's not what we should be showing our young people." Menino also says he's going to look into whether he can remove the Dig's news boxes from "nearby city buildings." Dig art director Tak Toyoshima tells WBZ that "the point of the cover is to celebrate summer, the end of summer -- it's the last hurrah." He adds that the illustration, done by Syracuse artist Phil McAndrew, "is not, to me, sexual at all. They're nude, but there's nothing sexual happening."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino has proposed capping at 300 the number of boxes a publisher could place in the city and charging them $25 per box per year, plus a $300 annual fee to receive a certificate of compliance, the Boston Globe reports. The ordinance would have to be approved by the City Council, which yesterday sent it to a committee. "We only have so much room on the sidewalk for news boxes," says a spokeswoman for Menino. "We think 300 news boxes per publication is generous in order to cover the city." City records show that no publication has 300 boxes yet, though several are close, including Boston's Weekly Dig, which currently has 284. Boston Phoenix circulation director Jim Dorgan tells the Globe the new fees are significant -- AAN's quick calculation shows that a publisher with the max of 300 boxes would pay $7,800 a year. He also says that another aspect of the ordinance, which precludes a publisher from having two news boxes for the same publication within 150 feet of each other, is "very restrictive."