The Citizen Harold
What inspired the creation of the Citizen Harold?
Perhaps, the single greatest inspiration was the vast amount of bureaucracy and worthless exercises that occur in the regular business world and academia. Like waiting for the 1 in a million phone call from an airline travel mag or a ginormous corporate newspaper. We could not foresee ourselves being cooped up in a 3x3 cube with a poster of Disney world thumb tacked to the corkboard walls while busting out charts and graphs in colors like lapis and periwinkle and using impressive phraseology like "proactive," "cerebrate," and "let's noodle on that."
How long has the Citizen Harold been in print?
Appropriately enough, Harold premiered on April 1, 1999.
How often is the paper published?
Whenever it feels right. But, in general, monthly. Except for last summer. We were asked by Miramax to write them a madcap caper and we developed a (secret) prototype marketing tool for Anheuser-Busch. Beers not included.
Is the print edition available only in the Twin Cities?
Actually, as of last month, it's now available in Northfield, Minnesota, and we have a friend named Mike who now lives Ohio and is making friends by distributing hundreds of our papers in that meaty Bowling Green, Ohio, student market.
What is a typical day at the Citizen Harold like?
Get up and run to the window to see if today was the day the money truck pulled up to the curb in front of our 500 square foot apartment. Shake off the dejection and have a cup of coffee or a can of already opened Coke. Check the email for fan support ( Always an uplifter). Check the website and the hits (Whoa! Look at that! We now average over 2,000 hits a day. Somebody besides loved ones and paid professionals must like us...) Then hit the phones and call dozens of businesses compromised of prospective advertisers, associates and countless others who might want to make a difference in our lives. Have lunch and snicker that we're still alive after a year and a half. After a microwaved potato and bean combo or a pastrami and swiss on white, we fire up the cumulative 400,000 + miled vehicles of ours and track down our advertisers, deliver some of our papers, check drop sites, talk to people, soak up some potential material and curse the traffic on I-94. Finally, return home and begin writing. Or, have a dinner of room temperature bean with bacon soup straight from the can and head out to a local Citizen Harold-friendly bar and involuntarily brainstorm ideas. Or, in effect, banter on about nothing for extended periods of time aided by a local macrobrew. Finally, return home and write down our thoughts before we forget what we incessantly carried on about and enter them into the computer to be ready for press time. Then, as the days toward production near, we lay out the paper, create the ads, lay-in the stories, edit it and cart it off to the printer. Boom. A paper. And, yes, the two of us do nearly every aspect of the business.
Where do you see the Citizen Harold in 5 years?
In a desolate world where rebel forces of human attempt to usurp power from the androids who have enslaved all. Actually, The Citizen Harold would be a weekly publication in not only the Cities, but available in the 'burbs' as, well. Perhaps, we could even fire it up in another town. And, like the Miramax and Anhueser-Busch projects, Harold would hopefully open other doors within the entertainment industry. And, we'd like to have painted a taxicab with our logo and name all over it by then. Or a bus.
How would you describe the genre of The Citizen Harold?
News parody. Or, well, just a "feel good, white-knuckle thrilling ride" of parody that's fun for the entire family.
What do you think about the current state of journalism?
The most difficult thing about journalism today is the fierce comedic competition "real" news provides.
What advice do you give to writers/publishers trying to break into the market?
Avoid L.A. and making excuses as to why you can't/shouldn't/won't give your talents a shot. We created the first 9 issues of the Harold on a $150 computer ( a 486 no less ) without any prior experience in the newspaper industry and pulled it off. And, as they say, the most difficult thing about writing.. is writing. And, take the "expert" advice with a grain of salt. If you've done your research and what you're thinking makes sense, go with it. Unless it's of course, starting your own asphalt refinery or new brand of detergent or something.
What are some of the pitfalls and joys of working on an entrepreneurial venture such as The Citizen Harold?
Perhaps the greatest joy is the fact that we don't have to have 37 forms in triplicate with the signature of 7 of our superiors, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to approve any changes we'd like to make the paper. The fan mail is great ( and bountiful!) and being the chief gardeners behind ensuring the growth of our literary weed. Pitfalls? Selling ads--but it beats encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners. And, we can't fire each other. Oh, and countless other electrons of joyfulness can be found at: www.thecitizenharold.com