Both the Boston Phoenix and Boston's Weekly Dig have been "a springboard" for journalists from the university, BU Daily reports. Among the alums on the Beantown alt-weekly scene are Phoenix founder Stephen Mindich and senior managing editor Clif Garboden; Dig art director Tak Toyoshima and staff writer Chris Faraone; and countless others, including former Phoenix reporter Kristen Lombardi, who broke the story of Cardinal Bernard Law's protection of pedophile priests, and former Phoenix media critic Mark Jurkowitz, who is currently the associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "[BU] is a great resource for us," says Dig publisher Jeff Lawrence. "These kids come out with great energy and a sense that they want to do something different."
Michael Brodeur, who replaces Matt Ashare, will start his tenure at the Phoenix on March 31. "Since Michael started writing for the Phoenix this past year, I have come to know him as someone who is tirelessly searching out new musical experiences, and someone who sees music as a vital place where pop culture defines itself," says Phoenix editor Lance Gould. Brodeur left the Dig in a Sept. 2007 restructuring.
The Phoenix was named "Newspaper of the Year" in the alternative weekly division by the New England Press Association in its 2007 Better Newspaper Contest. "After 40 years, the Boston Phoenix remains a model for alts, bristling with attitude and loaded with coverage of entertainment, culture, politics, and tweaking of the daily press," the judges say. The Boston alt-weekly led the pack of AAN papers represented in the awards with 12 first-place finishes. Boston's Weekly Dig was close behind it's crosstown competitor, grabbing seven first-place awards. The Portland Phoenix and Worcester Magazine each finished first in three categories, while the Hartford Advocate and the Providence Phoenix each took home one first-place award.
While he has been the de facto editor since the fall, Jeff Lawrence says in a letter to readers that he's now officially editor. "Once again, we need to reinvent and recast our editorial voice, from the ground up," he says. In other Dig news, Laura Dargus has been named the paper's new managing editor after being the interim managing editor for a few months. Lastly, Cara Bayles will begin her tenure as news and features editor in a few weeks.
"This is not a question of mere bad taste," Andrew Tarsy, the ADL's regional director and James L. Rudolph, chairman of the regional board of directors, said in a written statement about the Dig's annual "Kiddie Kroakers" feature, a satirical list of dangerous toys. The ADL says the Dig "exceeded the bounds of acceptable language” and resorted to "slurs in the name of humor" with items like a book called The Diarrhea of Anne Frank and Trivial Prosciutto, a board game "easy enough for Italians to play." The ADL is asking the Dig to apologize, but publisher Jeff Lawrence says no way. "We are the Weekly Dig. This is what we do,” he tells the Boston Herald. "We are known for pushing boundaries. We take on stereotypes and voodoo politics. At the end of the day, we are really trying to provoke people and get them to think."
Due to a 2004 change in the association's bylaws, five papers that have taken on new majority owners in the past two years will have their AAN membership reviewed in 2008. The Membership Committee will evaluate The Other Paper, Boston's Weekly Dig, East Bay Express, Metro Pulse, and Cityview, and will issue a report to members a week before the 2007 annual convention. To retain their membership, each paper must be affirmed by at least one-third of the members voting at the annual meeting in Philadelphia, which is tentatively scheduled for June 7.
"In the next six months, the Dig will look a lot different, and sound a lot different," Jeff Lawrence tells Boston magazine in the second of a two-part interview (the first part is here). Last week, after the Dig and editor Michael Brodeur parted ways, managing editor Shaula Clark and staff writer Julia Reischel both gave the paper notice. For now, Lawrence will take over as editor of the paper, but says he has no plans for making that a permanent position. He's also aware of the implications of such a move. "This publication is not going to turn into some advertorial piece of shit," Lawrence says. "Quite the contrary."
Editor Michael Brodeur is no longer with the company "as part of an editorial restructuring," and will not be immediately replaced, according to a press release. "This wasn't an easy decision," says Jeff Lawrence, Dig founder and president. "I wouldn't be surprised if his byline shows up in the Dig in the future though. He's a great writer and it's already been discussed." As Brodeur moves on, Alfred Wilson joins the company as VP of Business and Marketing. He will oversee all sales operations at the Dig and will also act as Group Publisher for Dig Publishing's custom publishing initiative, which includes Beer Advocate magazine, as well as several as-yet-unnamed in-market publications to be launched in 2008. Wilson previously worked at the Phoenix Media Communications Group in Boston for five years before spending two years in management consulting.