Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A somber dirge on Bridge Street

The call I never wanted to take came in tonight.

I had no sense of foreboding, no crash of thunder or flash of lighting accompanied the ringing of the phone.

The voice on the line said simply, "The Phoenix is almost closing."

"What do you mean?", I asked, "Newspapers, OUR newspaper doesn't "almost" close".

"Karen", the voice all but whispered. "The Phoenix is being cut down to a weekly."

I ended the call and just waited in silence.

Surely, I thought, this wasn't happening to that old bastion of news.

Thousands of pictures of the years of news stories, engagement pictures of fresh, young couples on the cusp of a new life together, the happy tidings of birth announcements, sad obituaries, exciting sports events, and thoughtful editorials flashed through my mind.

I thought of the time I worked for the Phoenix, The Daily Republican, then. Good days. Filled with the sound of the swinging gate clattering every time someone walked in or out of the corral as we called it then, the dusty, muskiness of old paper slowly crumbling into yellowed fragments upstairs. The clanging of the presses and the piquant smell of ink permeated even our clothes.

The sense of history in the old building not only weighed down on hunched shoulders and reminded us that our typewritten words would be read by many, but uplifted us, too, because we knew that some of those articles would be preserved behind the glass of a frame picked especially to memorialize an event or a moment of fame.

I carry that feeling even today. The Phoenix newspaper and it's people were mentors to me.

Editors, reporters, Joe Ujobi, Joe Rudick, Connie Purcell, Neal Thorpe, John Norris, Jack Jeffers, and others, unbeknownst to them, helped shape and create my thinking and were partners in instilling a deep abiding respect and love in me for the people and the town of Phoenixville.

This is almost like a death in the family of our community.

Nearly 15 minutes had passed before I broke my reverie.

I'm not one to leave a question unsettled. I called the Phoenix newspaper office.

The phone was answered on the first ring.

Within seconds, confirmation.

The good souls working at the Phoenix tonight had learned what many of us never wanted to hear.

The Phoenix will be a weekly newspaper, published for Saturday.

The daily operations are currently scheduled to end on June 19, 2009.

I am just stunned.

This is truly the end of an memorable era in Phoenixville.

I do believe I hear bagpipes.


Karen said...

The Phoenix changes the way it provides your news

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Loyal Reader,

Since 1888 The Phoenix has been a trusted resource to the greater Phoenixville region. In that time it has taken different names and different delivery methods all in an effort to better serve the community, advertisers and readers like you.

With that in mind we at Phoenixville Newspapers are pleased to announce The Phoenix is evolving once again, starting with its June 20th edition. Starting with this edition, The Phoenix will become a free weekly Saturday newspaper that will expand its coverage area to serve both the Phoenixville School District and Spring-Ford School District region.

By scaling back the days we print, we will allow our staff the time to gather and produce an improved product that the entire community will be pleased with. Your weekly newspaper will include more community news, more local sports, society and local interest stories that so many of our readers have been requesting.

By moving to a free publication we are able to increase the amount of newspapers we publish to 7,000 copies. This increase allows area residents greater access to the community news that impacts them.

Of course will continue to be the great on-line home for The Phoenix.

This is an exciting time for all of us as we work hard to provide you with the best in local news coverage. Thank you again for your continued readership, and we look forward to your feedback about the 'new' Phoenix.


Alexander N. Gould

General Manager

Phoenixville Newspapers

Anonymous said...

It's about time they "almost" close. The Phoenix is one of, if not the worst newpapers I've ever looked at. I say "looked at" because there were hardly any stories worth actually reading (and what stories were worth it, half were unfinished and not followed up on). Maybe (hopefully) the paper get better by doing this.

Karen said...

Anonymous 9:35 a.m., have a heart.

The market for newspapers has changed drastically, and I know our local group down at the Phoenix were working under severe constraints in many areas.

If wishes created reality, I'd wish for the paper never to have been sold in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Lazy dopes. Start a blog. Start a newspaper. Do a better job. Too easy to whine in between naps.

Karen said...

Sometimes the coldheartedness in this world just makes me shudder.

Anonymous said...

I too sort of hate to see the Phoenix disappear. Back when it was the Daily Republican and Evening Phoenix the paper was a damn good rag.

Unfortunately after it was sold to Ingersoll it started to go down-hill and after the sale to Journal-Register it hit bottom.

And both my sons carried the paper after school many years ago, and I had a subscription for many years which I canceled about 8 years ago.

Hopefully the Pottstown Mercury will again have a Phoenixville edition as they did when both papers were not owned by the same company. But now, since they are both owned by Journal-Register that probably won't happen. I can only hope.

Karen said...

Egads, Anonymous 9:26 p.m.! (First time I've ever used that word, I think!)

You reminded me of something I haven't thought about in years!

I was a "paper girl" way back when.

After folding the papers every day, I'd deliver them to all the homes on our street, which was a big responsibility at the time.

The carriers had a book in which we would rip off a little square receipt for customers. The worst part was I would have to keep going back if the neighbors weren't home.

Thanks for jogging that memory, Anonymous.

Innocent times.

Anonymous said...

With The Phoenix going to a weekly, there is a misconception among the community that either The Mercury or Daily Local News will put out a special section every day for Phoenixville news.

That won't happen because both of those papers cover a wide variety of areas and they won't dedicate a section just to Phoenixville. Those negative people out there who think that Phoenixville is so special that these papers will do that simply for them - well, it's not going to happen. You may get a Phoenixville story intertwined within the rest of these papers, but it won't get the emphasis like The Phoenix would give it.

A lot of the stories that people around here took forgranted that would be on the front page of The Phoenix, will buried among the other townships stories. A lot of great stories that appeared yearly in The Phoenix mean nothing to those other papers. Phoenixville, to these papers, is just another coverage area.

Karen, it truly is sad, but there are some people out there that are getting what they wished for. They had a hometown daily newspaper dedicated to them, but they set such high standards in a struggling economy and gave up their support. They took forgranted what they had, and they thought if they moaned and groaned enough, things would change.

Well, they have changed, but it's not for the best. Several good people will be losing their jobs, and the borough will have a watered-down product that was once a pillar to the community. You won't see familiar faces at events covering them for the paper. Again, not every event will be covered, and if it is, it won't be highlighted like it would be in The Phoenix. You will have one person, doing it all, who isn't familiar whatsoever with the town. Who is to say that this person will know what to cover and what not to cover. The folks currently at The Phoenix know like clockwork what goes on and what needs covered. This young person will end up missing quite a bit, which will only stir up distain.

It is those negative people to thank for this. Now they will have to find something else to gripe about the other six days of the week when they will only gripe once a week about the paper.

My heart goes out to those who supported The Phoenix, who wake up to it while drinking their coffee, who want to see their child picture in a play or sporting event, who want to know why the fire truck was down the street from them at 3 a.m., who want to keep in tune with their town.

Anonymous said...

May 24 9:53 am...
Its time to wake up now. The Phoenix that you describe in your eloquent obituary has been gone for a few years now. It died with the last editor. It's once vibrant body deteriorated into little more than a police blotter/court summary in the last few years. You know it and I know it.
I believe there will be coverage in the Mercury and the Local. I believe it because Journal Register is hurting and they know that if the Phoenixville area has decent news coverage there will be an increase in the number of readers and subscribers.
If the Phoenix is gone it is because its reporter did a lousy and lazy job of getting the news out. It can only get better with more qualified writers.