Journalism’s death has been greatly exaggerated.
Yes, newspapers large and small are hemorrhaging staff and capital amid massive revenue drop-offs. Magazines that once reached hundreds of thousands of readers have folded or downsized nearly into oblivion. And even web and TV properties are under pressure, being swept up in the tide of media consolidation that’s leaving just a handful of massive conglomerates behind to run the show.
But the demand for information goes on, particularly in emerging industries like psychedelics. The chances are slim that you’ll be able to turn on CNN or pick up The New York Times anytime soon and find in-depth analysis and insight into the psychedelic market or the trends shaping the future of this industry (that’s what we’re working on). That’s one reason why journalism vet and psychedelic insider Ken Jordan launched Lucid News earlier this year. Lucid aims to be a source for top quality, vetted, fact check work focused exclusively on psychedelics.
We recently sat down with Ken Jordan to learn more about his new venture and what he sees coming for the psychedelic community going forward. Here’s what he had to say.
Psychedelic Invest: What exactly is Lucid News all about?
Ken Jordan: Lucid News is a journalism platform covering psychedelics. We saw a need because the psychedelics world is growing so fast, and if you compare what we’re seeing now to just a year ago, it’s an entirely different world. A number of us [on staff] have been part of the psychedelic world for decades, so we’ve been watching this change and growth for a while now. We’ve watched all of the new people come in and create different sub-communities that aren’t engaging with each other and much of psychedelics’ legacy.
Community knowledge was not available to those who were coming into this space fresh. We realized that there’s a legacy of knowledge that the community has that needs to be shared. And the journalism that’s being done so far did not bring an informed psychedelic perspective to the coverage.
We wanted to do something a little bit different from what’s been out there, using the standard AP style guide approach to journalism, taking an even-handed approach, fact-checking, and making it as transparent as possible. This community’s legacy is all about shared community values and transparency.
That’s been the mission, and some really great people came on board and joined me to make this happen. It’s been about a year since we first started talking about it, and we launched the website in April 2020. We’re publishing something like 20 articles a month and hoping to expand it in the future.
PI: How did you get into all of this?
KJ: Previous to Lucid News, I started a company called Evolver, which published an online magazine called Reality Sandwich. We were a global consciousness network that reached millions of people through social media, live events, online learning, and other things. Reality Sandwich was the most popular online psychedelic journal, so to speak, where we published mostly essays and interviews.
That ended in 2019 when the company moved on, but I learned about and met many of the leading figures of psychedelics. I grew up in the middle of the sixties counterculture, and Alan Ginsburg was a mentor, so I was infused from a very young age to see things through a particular lens.
PI: I hear that a lot from children of the sixties and seventies. That this has all been going on for a lot longer than people think, it’s just that most of us weren’t paying attention yet.
KJ: Yes, and it’s always been connected to this notion that having profound visionary experiences is valuable. It positively changes your life and opens you up to see things you may not have noticed before. It helps you get through blockages that you may not have been ready to deal with before. When held in the right setting, psychedelics are transformative, and that needs to be treated with a certain kind of respect.
Respect is necessary because otherwise, you might not notice what’s actually going on. It’s important to understand, especially at this time in history when the environment is in crisis, politics and economics are in crisis, and people are going through some rough times, that psychedelics offer an opportunity to change things. That’s something you don’t treat lightly.
PI: It’s interesting to consider the journalism side of this and look at what happened to cannabis when it went from being an interesting and offbeat topic to cover to so much of it become promotional and a little slimy.
KJ: There is a great need for information in this community, but we’re being cautious about drawing a line around what we do in a traditional journalism way. We’re not an investment advisor. We’re more like the New York Times right now, and that’s a new approach to this industry.
PI: What’s the disconnect been in this shared community knowledge?
KJ: How should I put it? There hasn’t been informational journalistic coverage of the scene before. There’s a tremendous amount of knowledge around this space — if you want to go to a Phish concert or if you want to go to Burning Man, there are ways to access information about psychedelics — but what’s happening is that a lot of people are coming in through the business side. A lot of the investors and the people who are working for those companies don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the psychedelic world. Many of them will approach psychedelics as if it’s cannabis and without an appreciation for the profound differences.
PI: Certainly, there are differences in the business models, as the psychedelic world lends itself more to a pharmaceutical business model than what cannabis is.
KJ: Right. For example, cannabis is something that you might buy or use every day. But the bigger difference has to do with the kind of experience that psychedelics brings and how people relate to the substance. For many people, psychedelic experiences are among the five most profound experiences of their lives, and it’s because they get you into a very exposed and vulnerable place where you have to go through sometimes some delicate material. You need to have a safe boundary around yourself to be available enough to have those kinds of experiences.
That calls for a different kind of attitude about what these substances are, compared to, say, typical commercial products. Some people might think that using the same kind of guidelines that pharma uses in any “dangerous” or “potentially challenging” substance is sufficient. But a lot of people who’ve been in this world for a while think that part of the answer is around appropriately integrating psychedelics into mainstream society.
PI: Is the industry that’s growing up around this right now doing a good job or a bad job of making that clear?
KJ: Many people in the industry either already understand these differences or are opening to them. But many companies have found ways to express that understanding through what they do. Some are trying, and we’re doing our best to cover that, but we’re obviously in the very early stages of this. A lot is going to change over the next two, three, four years. I sense that what we think of as the psychedelic world will be totally transformed; it’s going to mean something very different.
PI: What’s your long-term hope for Lucid News as a business?
KJ: We want to grow it. We want to have a lot more resources, more articles, videos, maybe some events, and serve the community more effectively. We come at this from the perspective of members of the psychedelic community and recognize that there are ways that this community can be served through a content platform that no one else is providing right now.
PI: Where do you think psychedelic applications are going next?
KJ: There’s so much healing that needs to happen on this planet. The levels of depression, for instance, are staggering. And it’s even higher if you take other kinds of mood disorders into account; a solution needs to be found.
That’s certainly the low hanging fruit right now because it is already showing efficacy there. But there’s a whole other level of understanding the relationship between consciousness and physical well-being explored in the lab. On the one hand, you’re talking about pain management, but then there are also issues like addiction or stress that can be treated this way. There are a number of specific physical ailments that psychedelics in certain ways turn out to be incredibly effective in addressing. We have no clue yet why that is, but what’s being uncovered through this research is a relationship between states of mind and physical well-being.
It overlaps with what’s happening in the research around yoga and meditation. You see a lot of mapping brain states during these different experiences. We’re only at the start of where this will go, and I’m convinced that it’s going to have as profound an effect on our society as digital technologies did in the nineties.
That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing, because there’s also a culture to it. The psychedelic culture is alive, challenging, fun, and colorful. It’s not only about Burning Man. That’s a piece of it, the jam band world is a piece of it, but it’s multifarious in its expressions. We’re doing our best to catch all of those flavors.
PI: What do all of the recent decriminalization votes mean?
KJ: It means this is growing. In the next two to three years, you’re going to see a lot of places moving toward decriminalization or legalization. Then you’re also going to see FDA approval for certain substances.
To me, though, the most interesting thing about all of that is going to be how communities respond, how they create structures to hold the space for people to have safe and important personal experiences with these substances. That’s also already happening. Many different kinds of professional organizations are coming together – whether it’s therapists, or lawyers, or others interested in working with psychedelics – are creating professional standards. And you’re going to have more active community groups holding integration sessions, certifying ceremony leaders, and making sure that the substances you get are safe. People are going to grow their own mushrooms, so obviously, there needs to be groups supporting that.
All those things need to happen. A lot of activity, a lot for us to cover.
Read the latest at Lucid.news.