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Mon August 6, 2012
1 Guest: Stephen Mindich of the Boston Phoenix
Stephen Mindich grew up in the Bronx sleeping on a pullout bed in the hallway. Today, he's a self-made media mogul and publisher of the often-edgy newspaper the Boston Phoenix. Mindich recently appeared on Greater Boston’s 1 Guest to talk about the latest change in his media empire, his penchant for feuds and much more.
Mindich’s latest business venture will merge two of his best-known publications.
"The idea is that we're going to combine a lifestyle magazine which we put out every other week called Stuff Magazine with the Boston Phoenix, which is on newsprint. Stuff is on glossy. It's like the Boston Phoenix had a baby,” he says.
Mindich is excited for the Phoenix’s latest incarnation, which is expected to take flight in late September 2012.
Adult advertising controversy
It’s no secret that Mindich’s newspaper gets some of its revenue from advertising adult classifieds as an insert in the Phoenix. But Mindich still defends the practice, even as free websites like Craigslist continue to chip away at the market.
“It’s still viable or we wouldn’t be doing it,” he says. “Yes, other means of advertising — Craigslist or online stuff — has eaten into the business, but it's still very viable."
And what about the criticism that the Phoenix’s adult classifieds might be selling something sinister? How does the publisher respond to the idea that there might be something more illicit buried in the ads?
“While human trafficking exists and is terrible, I think it’s overblown in the advertising. Not that it doesn’t exist. Because you can’t be sure you’re buying a stolen car in a car ad,” he says. “If anybody came in and identify themselves as doing something illicit they wouldn't be in the publication. But as a matter of constitutional free speech, you don't restrain people prior before you know that they're guilty of something.”
The Daniel Pearl execution
Among Mindich’s more controversial decisions at the Phoenix was his decision to post a link to the video of kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s execution.
“I felt very strongly about that,” says Mindich. “I felt strongly for the reason that it is important for us to know our enemy. I think over the years that’s been more correct than incorrect.”
He also points out that he gave Pearl his first job in journalism. “I respected Danny Pearl. It was not disrespect. It wasn't disrespect for his family. I felt it was critical. And I was beaten up badly by the press for that.”