Why the Chronic, and Why Now?
I’m proud and relieved to be standing here next to Henry Barclay’s fabulous dam over the Esopus Creek in Saugerties, N.Y., introducing the Hudson Valley Chronic, a new way of looking at the greatest region in the world, one story at a time. The Chronic burst organically upon the scene in October 2008, and represents an exciting new paradigm in today’s stripped-down media world, a hybrid print/web tabloid news magazine that appeals to the intelligence and adventurous spirit of a select demographic: people who refuse to roll over and die in the face of The Great Recession and other 21st-century indignities.
The Chronic, produced monthly, covers one to four stories of maximum interest per issue, along with a full website designed to serve as a sort of “Huffington Post” or “Drudge Report” for the Mid-Hudson region. The emphasis is on investigative reporting, analysis and can’t-put-it-down, humor-laced storytelling, rather than on providing yet another source of easily digestible, low-attention-span fluff. There will be no calendars, “news notes” or lightly-disguised press releases clogging up the Chronic. By concentrating on the core mission of journalism — to inform, entertain, enlighten and engage readers to participate in the world around them — the Chronic intends to attract and keep the relatively large core audience for good journalism that exists in the Hudson Valley.
This is a critical recipe for success endorsed by Philip Meyer, professor emeritus in Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of “The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age,” who wrote the following in an article published in the American Journalism Review a week after the launch of the Chronic: “The newspapers that survive will probably do so with some kind of hybrid content: analysis, interpretation and investigative reporting in a print product that appears less than daily, combined with constant updating and reader interaction on the Web.”
Despite its deceptively low-tech, tabloid appearance, the Chronic is not a newspaper. It will continue to feature at least one ripping yarn per issue, a story that cries out for the sort of full-on treatment that increasingly finds little column space in today’s world of sound bites and watered-down infotainment. The paper is intended to be a juicy, satisfying read for that long train, plane or bus ride as well as a teaser for the web version of the Chronic. It’s a medium-format, relatively low-tech means of inviting intelligent readers to experience a new world of long-form journalism on the web right here at www.hvchronic.com, a growing and metamorphosing site where there is plenty of room to expand on an interesting subject and give it its due.
The name “Chronic” is no accident. It means that, like a bad case of arthritis, the physical newspaper doesn’t adhere to any particular schedule, and will flare up when the conditions are perfect for another issue. Specifically, that will mean that there’s a great story written and in the can, after which I will with laser-like efficiency go out and sell to a group of advertisers, with the aim of delivering to a scientifically selected demographic guaranteed to want to get their hands on a copy.
It’s a way to get paid a little better for writing as well as you possibly can, by eliminating the middleman and going straight to the customer who wants what you do.
In other words, if we break a story about a government boondoggle in Hudson, we’ll find out all about it, write an all-encompassing 6,000-word story and wallpaper Hudson with 5,000 Chronics. If the Millbrook Blazers win the Class D New York State football championship this year, we’ll have the entire story, soup to nuts, with great photos, and do a spiffier color collectible version for the hometown folks that’ll feature one of the most complete sports sagas ever written about any high school team.
Whenever something completely new and surprising pops up, we’ll be there at the heart of it, filling one issue with everything you’ll never have expected to read about it in a million years.
That’s the dream, anyway.
These issues will all be appearing at Metro-North and Amtrak train stations, selected bus stations and regional airports, as well as other well-trafficked venues such as Adams Fairacre Farms stores about once a month. Enjoy them; we’ll try our very best to fashion at least one doozy in each issue, and have taken to throwing in a monthly chestnut for you chronic puzzleheads to sweeten the deal. Meanwhile, please visit the Chronic online every once in a while, and watch us grow like a runaway virus, gleefully eating everything in our path. We’ll be actively pursuing the cooperation of every news and information entity in the Hudson Valley, in order to give you as an extra added attraction a one-stop platform from which to jump off into this most interesting and varied of places on earth. Welcome aboard, esteemed reader (hey, Jason), and enjoy the slow, bumpy, hopefully entertaining and illuminating ride.
Editor and Publisher