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End of era for local newspapers

For a generation, the South Boston Tribune gave voice to daily life in the neighborhood: bake sales, church bazaars, beauty contests. Many a young athlete has basked in the mention of a feat on the playing field or rink.

On Thursday, that 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 Boston communities. Along with the ­Tribune, the Dorchester Argus-Citizen, the Jamaica Plain Citizen, and the Hyde Park Tribune were also folding. Their demise was reported by the Dorchester Reporter and the Jamaica Plain Gazette.


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

In an era before Facebook, Twitter, and online news sources became the norm, community papers were a constant for many Boston neighborhoods. But as more readers migrated to the Web for their news and classified ads, it became increas­ingly difficult for the newspapers to remain financially viable.

“[Local papers] certainly don’t have trouble attracting readers,” said Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University. “The trouble they face, something we all face, is that the adver­tising game has changed so much. It’s an economic challenge.”

The Tribune, which dates to 1938, seemed to want to be the one to trumpet its final scoop. With rumors about the paper’s demise building this week, 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.

In its heyday, the paper helped define the identity of South Boston before it was transformed by an influx of residents born elsewhere. Critics had said it was stuck in the past on key issues, such as its criticism of forced busing during the mid to late 1970s.


The Tribune was also known to punish its enemies, once banishing state Representative Paul Gannon from its pages ­after he ran afoul of the paper, the Globe reported in 1995.

But residents and former employees said that whether you agreed with it or not, the Tribune filled a critical role.

“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 theowner of Neighborhood Photo News. “It just had more information.”

State Representative Nick Collins, a South Boston native, 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.”

State Senator Jack Hart, also 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.”

For its last edition, the ­Tribune stuck to familiar territory, highlighting a controversial residential development, promoting a blood drive in honor of James M. Kelly, the late former City Council president, and featuring photos of neighborhood sporting contests. In a parting note, the paper thanked readers. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of this wonderful community.”


Correspondent Sarah Mattero contributed to this report. ­Patrick D. Rosso can be reached at Patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com.