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South Boston Tribune, voice of neighborhood for a generation, prints last edition

Posted by Roy Greene  October 25, 2012 05:06 PM

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A farewell message to readers in the final edition of the South Boston Tribune.

For a generation, the South Boston Tribune gave voice to daily life in the neighborhood --- bake sales, church bazaars, beauty contests.

Since 1938, many a young athlete basked in the mention of a feat on the playing field or rink.

Today, that neighborhood voice fell silent: The Tribune published its final edition, which carried the headline, “End of An Era.”

The same loss apparently was also being felt in other local communities. Along with the Tribune, the Dorchester Argus-Citizen, Jamaica Plain Citizen, and Hyde Park Tribune were also folding. Their demise was reported by the Dorchester Reporter and the JP Gazette.

The newspapers ceasing operations are all owned by the Tribune Publishing Company, which is overseen by the family of the late publisher Daniel J. Horgan. The company, which purchased the Tribune in 1974, declined to comment.

In an era before Facebook, Twitter, and on-line new sources became the norm, community papers were a constant for many Boston neighborhoods, providing important information about community happenings. As more readers migrate to the web for their news and classifieds, it has become increasingly difficult for community newspapers to remain financially viable.

“In general, these really small hyperlocal neighborhood and community weeklies generally still do pretty well in some instances,” said Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University. “[Local papers]certainly don’t have trouble attracting readers. The trouble they face, is something we all face, is that the advertising game has changed so much. It’s an economic challenge.”

The Tribune, at least, seemed to want to be the one to trumpet its final scoop. While rumors about the paper’s demise had been building, editors had declined to make their plans known. A visit to the Tribune’s West Broadway office Wednesday was met with a no comment and a request to leave.

Former employees and residents lamented the decline of a neighborhood voice, one that in its heyday helped define the identity of South Boston. It was known for allowing politicials to give their unvarnished views of the issues of the day.

“The biggest loss is it’s the only newspaper that prints about what’s going on around town,” said Stephen Allen, a former photographer for the Tribune and owner of Neighborhood Photo News. “It just had more information.”

State Representative Nick Collins, a native of South Boston, said he also has many fond memories of the Tribune.

“My favorite moment growing up was seeing my team’s name in the paper for youth sports,” Collins said. “They also had an editorial side that reflected the opinions of a portion of South Boston, and they cataloged events throughout the years.”

Brian Mahoney, a longtime contributor to the paper, said it’s a sad day for the seaside neighborhood.

“It’s going to be a deep loss; they were the true chronicle of every part of South Boston,” said Mahoney, who penned his first article for the weekly in 1998. “It was a resource people could go to to get the pulse of the neighborhood.”

State Senator Jack Hart, a South Boston native, called the Tribune "the chronicle of our lives growing up."

"The first thing you did on a Thursday morning was to run out and buy a copy of the Tribune," Hart said. "It’s a very sad day for the neighborhood.”

Correspondent Sarah N. Mattero contributed to this report. Patrick D. Rosso can be reached at Patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com
For more neighborhood news, go to our Your Town sites, including South Boston, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain.

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