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Boston neighborhood newspaper ends publication with a whimper as chain exits city

Announcement of the end of the Transcript Tab

GateHouse's Transcript Tab, smushed together out of two papers in 2019 to serve two sets of Boston neighborhoods with little in common, has sighed its last and quietly disappeared into the pages of history.

The older of the two original papers, the Parkway Transcript, published its first edition on Feb. 29, 1930, with a focus on Roslindale, according to a 1970s history of the neighborhood by Richard W. Davis, who took over the paper from his father. The Allston/Brighton Tab dates to 1981.

Gatehouse, which now goes by Gannett, says readers of what had been an emaciated weekly from the start can continue to glean what little Allston/Brighton, Roslindale and West Roxbury news it deigns to publish on its Wicked Local TranscriptTab Web site. Today the only story directly about the four neighborhoods on the site's home page is buried way down on the page and is an ouroborean announcement about the paper shutting down.

The four neighborhoods continue to be covered in print by the Bulletin, an independent chain based in Norwood.

H/t Gary, one of the paper's last actual readers.

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I glanced at a print issue a few weeks ago. There were zero articles of local interest.

It’s really sad. I delivered the paper in my youth. It was a great paper at the time. It was still fairly decent in the CNC era. The internet can be blamed for a lot of the demise of newspapers (as I note when people here gripe about news paywalls) but as the Bulletin is still chugging along, I have to think this is a management failure.

Voting closed 23

Boston's an interesting place given the papers that are still running here, in a way that they aren't elsewhere.

There's the Bulletin, which to this day looks like a paper out of the 1990s, with the back half filled with pages of those little home-contractor and bigger real-estate ads - and free, by the thousands, in the racks at Roche Bros.

Then there's the Independent chain, which runs similar papers in the North End, Charlestown and East Boston (and up into some of the northern suburbs), the Dorchester Reporter, the Bay State Banner and the Boston Guardian.

The Bulletin and the Guardian don't even really have Web sites to speak of (well, the Bulletin has a site where you can download entire copies of its papers).

So, yeah, GateHouse tried to run its papers as a small cogs in a regional/national effort and it didn't work; turned out nobody wanted to read Needham or Framingham news in a Roslindale newspaper. Whereas the other papers are all local, local, local.

Voting closed 31

My problem with paywalls is that they do not model the "dead trees" era well and I think they can and should.

The paywalls are all about offering a low introductory rate for a subscription. The problem is that if I do subscribe I need to remember to cancel it at or before the end of that period, but even if I do I'm now on the hook for endless emails begging me to subscribe again.

In the physical paper days I could go into a newsstand and buy a single edition of anything, with no strings attached. Then, if I bought it several times and deemed it worthy I could try a subscription.

The tech exists to build that same model in today's digital realm. I can guarantee that I would be far more likely to drop a small amount of cash to gain access to one or two editions of a newspaper or periodical (or the past and next 24 hours worth of articles) if it was a microtransaction linked to my IP address. That would solve both of the above problems on my end, and it provide the source with revenue as well as the potential to add more subscribers.

Voting closed 18

There used to be Dedham, West Roxbury, and Parkway (Roslindale) Transcripts. Did the Dedham one survive?

Voting closed 14

Back in the day (see above) they were all put out by the same company, including at least the Needham Chronicle. Dedham, Westwood, and Norwood were served by the Daily Transcript. Daily!

Voting closed 13

I lived in Dedham at the time, and I was a Globe paperboy in the mornings. I think the Transcript was delivered in the afternoons. My brother delivered one of the afternoon newspapers -- I can't remember if it was the Herald or the Patriot Ledger.

The Transcript and the Patriot Ledger were quite large publications back in the day.

Voting closed 7

Thank goodness we have you! You’re my go-to for local neighborhood news.

Voting closed 27

The Parkway Transcript was never very good over the 20 or so years that I read it, but they used to have some local columnists and a dedicated reporter who covered West Roxbury and Roslindale with actual news.

I always looked for the Statement of Circulation every year. After the merger, the Transcript Tab in 2020 reported a total circulation of 291 copies. That's the total for what was left of the West Roxbury Transcript, the Parkway Transcript, and the Allston-Brighton Tab. Most of the paper was by then written by press release and "partners" like WCVB and State House News Service.

We're always being encouraged to support our local newspapers. At one time these papers had thousands of subscribers but why would anybody pay almost $100/year for what they became?

Voting closed 10

separate from the Allston-Brighton TAB or any others in that chain. It concentrated on news from the city's most central neighborhoods, such as Back Bay and Downtown. When did it go away?

Voting closed 16

The Bulletin seems to cover some of HP (always gets forgotten as a "parkway" area ie Turtle Pond Parkway and Enneking are also in HP), Roslindale and WR.

Voting closed 10

Adam may have also reported on the same thing, but they cover development and the community groups. Roslindale, West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Allston-Brighton also get good coverage. Sure, that used to be done by 4 different newspapers, but let’s just say that one issue has more articles about each community than the Transcript Tab would run in a month.

Voting closed 8