But not our commitment to community journalism
By Kevin E. Foley
Going forward we will be known by a different name. But we will work to make the read just as sweet.
The Highlands Current comes from a shared geography, the river we live on and the connection between Philipstown and Beacon.
Founded on the idea that a community benefits greatly when the news is gathered and disseminated in a fair-minded, interesting way, today we expand our definition of “community.” We do so because to survive in a changing journalistic era, we are an enterprise in need of more readers who care about and support our existence.
Gordon Stewart started Philipstown.info on July 4, 2010, on his own dime to present the news “without fear or favor.” He decided in 2012 that a weekly print newspaper, a physical embodiment of a community’s actions, aspirations and faults, was needed. That Philipstown already had a weekly newspaper was not an impediment to his thinking — it was a stimulus to his spending.
He named our weekly The Paper to disrupt the conversation in the town. The tactic was awkward right up until this week, but he did achieve the disruption he sought.
Gordon lived to see his newspaper win more than a dozen professional awards and more importantly a great deal of public acceptance. Sixteen months after his death we expand on his vision in a way we hope he would have approved. He might have groused at the name change, but he would have embraced the strategic rationale with a smile.
Tale of two towns
Philipstown and Beacon are different in many ways, but they are similar in just as many. From the outset we covered arts-related places and events in Beacon because we believed Philipstown readers had an interest.
Now we seek to cover the civic life of both communities to build readership out of a commonality of interests, initiatives, problems and solutions.
We are two river towns (albeit in different counties) working under the same tax-cap budget constraints, trying to encourage and manage new development, wrestling with planning and zoning options, looking to increase tourism while trying to handle existing tourism, seeking to protect and maintain access to the natural world, and trying to get the best education for our own and everyone’s children.
Both towns rightly celebrate and cherish their volunteer first responders.
Artists from Beacon show work in Garrison and Cold Spring galleries. Philipstown film lovers and makers travel up Route 9D for Beacon festivals, and vice versa. It is the same for hikers, poets, theatre lovers, athletes and people in search of a good time.
Visitors ride the trolley between Beacon and Cold Spring.
Philipstown and Beacon officials are among the task force working to make the Fjord Trail a reality to connect the two places.
Recently Randy Casale, Beacon’s mayor, said he learned, through this newspaper, that Cold Spring was also considering parking meters as a potential solution to increasing revenue and better parking control. We hope someday to cover the meeting where officials from both places get together to discuss the issue.
Calling all readers
Today, more than ever, readers play an integral role in the creation of the news. Readers tell us what’s going on, what is important, what they’ve seen and heard and what they think. Highlandscurrent.com will be a curated venue for readers to express what matters within a civil context. We will strive to be open to all respectful Beacon and Philipstown voices.
The print paper will also carry letters to the editor and online comments we find especially relevant. Crafted opinion pieces on local topics are always welcome. Editors or reporters might offer informed, bylined opinion. But The Highlands Current, as with its predecessor, won’t offer editorials as an organization. We see our role as giving readers things to think about, not telling them what to think from some Olympian perspective.
Sometimes we will be slower than the digital rush of rumor, conjecture and heated opinion. Our job is not to always be first. Our job is to sort out, verify, and then report.
Gordon believed the long-term sustainability of our operation would require a formal non-profit structure, a board of directors prepared to donate and raise money, foundation support and the linchpin of demonstrable public support. Well, here we are, a 501c3 Current work in progress, standing on the ground of real encouragement from several quarters and the work of many people prepared to contribute beyond financial reward because the work matters.
These words wouldn’t be printed if our board of directors had not stepped up with money, business savvy, legal assistance and a dedication to editorial independence for the professional staff. Those of us listed on the masthead are indebted to their extraordinary civic mindedness. The board is also intent on expanding its numbers with like-minded individuals from Beacon. Our website has information on the board and its mission as publisher of The Highlands Current.
Please spread the word if you value what we do. And take the time to tell us what you think as we go forward.
To the many people who have already said yes with their financial support — thank you.