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Paper Tigers

Posted by Jim Botticelli  October 16, 2013 10:49 PM

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An innocent trying to make a buck. Street news sales were a long-time DOB tradition.
Boston 'News' War History: The Phoenix vs The Real Paper

DOB is a blog with opinion, fact, and creative input. Please enjoy at that level.

The Phoenix was founded in 1965 by Joe Hanlon, a former editor a MIT's student newspaper, The Tech. Since many Boston area college newspapers were printed at the same printing firm, Hanlon wanted to do a four-page single-sheet insert with arts coverage and ads. Boston After Dark began March 2, 1966, and theater buff Larry Stark began contributing theater reviews with the second issue. When the insert idea did not pan out, the trio continued Boston After Dark as a weekly free paper. A year after the launch, Hanlon sold off his half to Lewis. For three years, Boston After Dark kept the four-page format, with Lewis as publisher, Jane Steidemann as editor, Stephen M. Mindich as ad salesman and Stark as full-time theater critic and copy editor, plus film reviews by Deac Rossell, who later went on to become head of programming at London's National Film Theatre. Mindich acquired half interest and Stark quit in 1972, reviewing for the rival Cambridge Phoenix, born on John Lennon's birthday, October 9, 1969. The first managing editor, April Smith, would go on to become a writer-producer for Cagney and Lacy, referred to by our local pals as Gag Me and Mace Me. But that's Mad Magazine humor which many of us continue to live by despite society having passed it by! After a two week writers' strike in August 1972, the Cambridge Phoenix was sold to Boston After Dark, and became The Boston Phoenix, with Boston After Dark as the Arts and Entertainment (and Adult Sex Ads) section.

Conflict ensued and ousted writers started The Real Paper in August, 1972. By the early- to mid-1970s, The Real Paper served as a springboard for a number of journalists, including music critic Jon Landau and film critic David Ansen, who left to write for Newsweek, known in DOB circles as Newspeak. Time columnist and TV commentator Joe Klein reported on Cambridge politics during the 1970s. Now he is a frequent Talking Head on Network News Channels. It's amazing how much Boston alternative media has given to the world. Now, if we can only believe it!

350px-RealPaper.pngHow real was it? And was it called 'Real' due to labor disuptes and not for journalistic purity?

In September, 1978 Stephen Schiff covered films for The Real Paper and the Boston Phoenix before moving on to Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and then establishing a career as a screenwriter (Lolita, The Deep End of the Ocean, True Crime). Real Paper critics provided real coverage, reviewing everything from major openings in Boston to the local Orson Welles Cinema (located one block away) to film showings in churches, coffeehouses, museums and college auditoriums. Those were the daze my friends. 

Thanks to Wikipedia. We are not pure journalism. We are fact, opinon and creative input

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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