Dan Richey hard at work on The Chronicle in 2006.
When I arrived at The Northside Chronicle, barely a month out of college, the entire operation consisted of a computer in a room at the Northside Community Development Fund. John Lyon had run the paper out of pocket for decades leading up to his death, and the Fund had kept the paper on life support since then.
We had no business plan. We had no contact lists and few customers. I didn’t know where the stories were going to come from.
Also, I had never been to the Northside before.
Ironically, the computer sat next to the old light table that John used to piece the paper together by hand all those years. That light table came to be my nemesis. I would look at it and be reminded of just how far The Chronicle was from where I thought it needed to be.
It was covered by a mess of old scraps and tools. The last guy to touch any of them had been John Lyon, someone whose legacy it would be impossible to live up to. People didn’t just want The Chronicle back, they wanted John’s Chronicle. But John was gone, and you can’t make a paper on a light table anymore.
I wanted The Chronicle to have a new life — I wanted it to cover hard news stories and things about the Northside that weren’t given much attention by the local press. I wanted it to be digital, interactive, and a part of the neighborhood.
Of course, I wasn’t able to make any of that happen. Just getting it to tread water with one employee was more than enough to keep a guy busy. Thankfully, I had the support of a fantastic group of friends and neighbors who loved the Northside too much to allow the paper to die.
Without volunteer reporters, the folks at the Northside Leadership Conference and the Fund who had to put up with me every day, and not least of all, the small group of advertisers who stuck with The Chronicle when times were tough, there would be no Northside Chronicle today.
I’d come in wanting to transform the paper, and when all was said and done, I had to be happy to leave it stable and ready to hire my own successor and (gasp!) a second employee. And that might have been the best thing I was ever able to do for The Chronicle: leave it in Andy Medici’s hands. Because of the excellent work he did after me, The Chronicle is beginning to look like the paper I had always hoped it could be.
Here’s to 25 years in The Chronicle’s past and, more importantly, to many more in its future.