The news about the demise of The Boston Phoenix has hit me hard this week. I hadn’t read it much since leaving Boston, but the fact that it’s no longer there, along with WFNX’s shutdown, makes me feel empty inside. I’ve always had a soft spot for alternative papers and alternative media, starting with The Tab in my hometown, which was gobbled up by The Metrowest Daily News. After college, I went to work as an intern with The Valley Advocate in Western Mass. A lot of the key staff hasn’t changed since I was there. I’m wondering how The Advocate is doing (from their website, their stories look as strong as ever), and I hope they stay strong. Without the alternative press, I don’t think there’s a true representation of democratic media in this country. When publications like The Phoenix die, the media landscape becomes more homogenized. These papers dig deeper and get at ideas, sensibilities and people unrepresented in the mainstream press. And without corporate backers, they’re free to criticize big business and politicians in ways that the founding fathers envisioned.