Confirming mounting suspicions that The Portland Phoenix is ultimately a rebranding effort for the Portland Daily Sun, Phoenix Staff Writer Matt Dodge announced that he would be leaving the paper. The news comes after it was revealed that the paper had fired Editor Daniel MacLeod.
UPDATE: Another quick note: It appears that—according to her Facebook page—another fantastic Phoenix writer, Olivia Gunn, has also left the paper upon the firing of MacLeod.
[EDIT: My original post inaccurately listed MacLeod as “Managing Editor” when it should simply referred to him as “Editor.” Damn you, WordPress.]
Without getting into the misma and politics of the thing, I just wanted to let you know that I quit the Phoenix on Friday (though two pieces I was working on will appear in this coming issue).
As you know, management fired editor Dan Macleod last week (who was the only reason I wanted to work there) and, from what I’ve been told by the owner, Mark, they are determined to make it into another Daily Sun-like “broader, newsier” product. I was offered the position of “culture editor” for the back section of the paper (columns, food, music, reviews, etc), but had no motivation to contribute to an organization that is so out of touch with Portland and its people. Dan did a spectacular job of holding off the Sun influence for as long as possible and churning out a Phoenix-y product, but Mark pulled the plug on all that as soon as we had our feet under us and knew we were going to survive the PHX-Dig warn, which I suspect was his plan all along.
I encourage all freelancers and contributors to make their own decisions about staying on with the PHX and implore them to not base it on my and Dan’s departure, but the arts/culture coverage is going to take a big hit unless they choose to reinvest in new staff or seek out more freelancers (neither of which I’m not inclined to believe they will, based on conversations with the owner).
Just to be clear, this is not a rant from a disgruntled former employee as much as a warning: with the departure of Dan and myself, everyone’s worst fears have been confirmed: The Phoenix is becoming The Sun. I can’t imagine why advertisers would continue to cut checks to a publication that is “alt-weekly” in name only, but expect the reputation/look/quality of the Phoenix to take a big hit in coming week, so plan accordingly.
Feel free to forward this along to anyone else, including local artists and any local businesses or non-profits who have done/have considered business with the Phoenix. They are out to convince the public they are offering the same product and are committed to the alt-weekly model, but it looks now like that is all ad-baiting lip service.