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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 top half of the cover of the October 11 - 18, 1978 issue of the NewPaper, printed from microfilm at the Rhode Island Historical Archive Library. Uploaded Image

"'What's going on in Rhode Island?' If you're like many Rhode Islanders, you'll answer, 'I don't know' or 'not much.' That is why the NewPaper." -- quoted in the 12-page preview issue of the NewPaper, the Phoenix's predecessor.

The NewPaper was founded in Providence in 1978 by Ty Davis and the New Paper Company, and was considered to be an expansion of a column he had written for the Providence Journal. Davis believed that the Journal held an information monopoly in Providence and didn't publish underground news.

Davis said of his first issue: “This modest preview issue represents the first step towards establishing a new, major weekly offering both the most comprehensive entertainment information possible, and a fresh perspective on what’s going on in the state.” (qtd. in Donnis, 1) Published in two sections--the main body of the paper and the now-discontinued "NewSection"--the NewPaper is a smaller newspaper than the Phoenix of today. Noticeably lacking from the NewPaper is an Adult Section.

The subsections of the NewPaper in the order that they appear are as follows: Feedback, Briefs, Movies, Theater, puzzles, Sports, Music, and finally the NewSection (which contains local interest news and concert, club, theater, art and TV listings), Prime Times (the equivalent of today's "8 Days a Week"), and Classifieds. The classifieds section encourages community/publication interactions in true Phoenix fashion, with headings of "for sale", "help wanted", and even "roommates".

In September of 1988 the New Paper Company was bought out by PNP Communications, Corp. and was renamed The Phoenix's New Paper. Publication continued out of Providence, but there was some question in the community as to whether the NewPaper would change considerably under its new ownership. In the 30th Anniversary issue of the Phoenix Maurice Collins, owner of the Wild Colonial Bar in Providence, states that "The most critical moment I remember was when the NewPaper was in the process of becoming the Phoenix. As I recall their was some question--at least in some people's minds--whether the paper would begin to charge as had its Boston counterpart. It remained free and retained many of the important features that made it so local and that, as the man says, has made all the difference."

The first issue of The Phoenix's NewPaper, September 8-14 1988, boasts a third section entitled "Adult Services." The NewSection has been replaced by Arts + Entertainment, and Phillipe and Jorge have laid claim to the first full spread of the paper. The newspaper is in the process of expanding and seems to have established itself as a staple publication in Providence.

Uploaded Image

The above image is the cover of the first issue of The Phoenix's NewPaper for the week of September 8 - 14 1988. It is printed from microfilm at the Rhode Island Historical Archive Library. Note that the quality of the reproduction is poor. A disclaimer on the first slide of the microfilm reel states: "paper and ink used in the original issues affect the quality of the film addition." (See Materiality.)

The cover story details auditions at the Trinity Repertory Theater, which is still in operation in Providence today.

In the early spring of 1993, under the same ownership, the title of the newsweekly was changed to The Providence Phoenix. The February 25 - March 3 issue is the first to bear that title across the top. The cover story of that first issue, entitled "State Inspections uncover substandard Nursing Home care no place like home," details the poor conditions of nursing homes in Rhode Island. In true Phoenix fashion, this pioneer issue gives priority to the stories of local interest.

Uploaded Image

Cover of the first issue of the Providence Phoenix, February 25 - March 3 1993. Also printed from microfilm at the Rhode Island Historical Archive Library. Similarly-poor quality due to transfer from paper to film.

Back to: immutable mobiles, History: from Penny Press to Providence Phoenix, An Outsider's Perspective