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13 Things 2009

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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

The Providence Phoenix is in itself a medium--a means of transmitting and conveying information to an audience. However, by an alternative definition, the city of Providence can also be viewed as a larger medium or network of which the Phoenix is a part.

Jonathan Sterne defines medium as "a recurring set of contingent social relations and social practices.... As the larger fields of economic and cultural relations around a technology or technique extend, repeat, and mutate, they become recognizable to users as a medium. A medium is therefore the social basis that allows a set of technologies to stand out as a unified thing with clearly defined functions." (Sterne, 182)

It is within the social, cultural and economic structure of Providence--its medium--that the Phoenix has changed and developed over time. In its choice of articles and advertisements, and in the tone of its writers, we see a reflection of modern Providence. Consequently, changes in the materiality and content of the Phoenix over time reveal much about changes in the city, and within the city the individuals that constitute the Phoenix's readership. In looking back on the history of Alternative Newsweeklies, and specifically the Providence Phoenix, a few key questions arise:

*How has the Alternative Newsweekly developed as a genre?

*Does the Providence Phoenix fit the definition of Alternative Newsweekly today?

*Is the definition of a successful newspaper the same as it was a century ago?

*How does the Phoenix support itself today as a free publication?

These questions are tackled throughout the body of my project.

The invention of the printing press allowed for the production of immutable mobiles, and consequently printed newspapers.

Newspapers in America: The briefest history

A spotlight on the alternative press:

New York City 1800s

New York City 1900s

The NewPaper

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