The 37,000-circulation Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota may have lost its building to flooding and fire in 1997, but this month the daily won a Pulitzer Prize for public service. The paper never missed a day of publication and circulated for free when its readers were forced to evacuate their homes.
Thanks to Herald editor Mike Jacobs, High Country News can bask a second or two in the paper's glory. Jacobs, it turns out, is something of a lost relative of ours. In 1975, he founded The Onlooker, a lone voice on the prairie that covered agriculture, environment and politics in North Dakota. After fanning the flames of the state's prairie-fire populists for three years, the paper folded and its 1,534 subscribers - a number still fresh in Jacobs' mind - were added to High Country News' mailing lists.
The Onlooker got its name when Jacobs wasn't sure what to write on his name tag during a tour of a coal strip mine.
"I wasn't working for a publication at the time, so I wrote "onlooker" on my name tag," he says. Thus The Onlooker was born. Despite the recent acclaim, those days remain vivid. "That was the best journalism I've ever done," Jacobs says.
If any readers remember reading The Onlooker, or knows where back issues are, please contact assistant editor Dustin Solberg.
In case you received the Southwest Center for Biodiversity's Alert #124 (3/31/98), we should alert you to a problem. The group sent out an edited copy of Tony Davis' article, titled "Staffers say their agency betrayed the land," from the March 30, 1998, issue. The version the center sent out contains about two-thirds of Tony's article: the part that is critical of the U.S. Forest Service. Missing from the center's version is most of the last third of the article, in which various people defend the agency or put the events in a larger context.
Neither this paper nor Davis were asked for nor gave permission to have the article reproduced in any form, and certainly not in the "Alert's' misleading form.
Writers on the Range
For the last eight months, senior editor Paul Larmer has been working with writers throughout the West to produce three 800-word columns a week for distribution to newspapers around the West.
So far, editors from around the region have responded enthusiastically to our Writers on the Range syndication service. Seventeen newspapers subscribe, and another dozen or so publications use the columns occasionally. Fees are based on circulation.
Editors say they appreciate the voices from the grassroots, the solid writing and the diverse subjects and viewpoints - qualities they don't always get from nationally syndicated or local columnists. Perhaps more important, the editors say the service gives their readers a sense of belonging to the larger West, something High Country News has striven to offer for nearly 30 years.
Though we are gratified with the response to Writers on the Range, making it an economically self-sufficient operation is a goal we think will take three years to accomplish. In the meantime, we are still looking for funding to pay the writers and continue the marketing of the columns. We need to raise another $50,000 to see us to the year 2000. By that time we hope to bring on board another 20 papers as paying subscribers.
If you are interested in helping with the Writers on the Range service - either as a writer, a marketer, or a donor - please contact Paul Larmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Papers where you can see Writers on the Range columns are: Summit Daily News (Frisco, Colo.), Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), Park Record (Park City, Utah), Times Independent (Moab, Utah), Jackson Hole Guide (Jackson, Wyo.), Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.), Livingston Enterprise (Livingston, Mont.), Rawlins Daily Times (Rawlins, Wyo.), Wood River Journal (Hailey, Idaho), Vail Daily (Vail, Colo.), Denver Post (Denver, Colo.), Telluride Daily Planet (Telluride, Colo.), Wyoming Tribune Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.), Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Herald Journal (Logan, Utah), Colorado Daily (Boulder, Colo.), Leadville Chronicle (Leadville, Colo.).
The papers have a total circulation of approximately 700,000 readers.
Rick Anderson, a drama teacher from Idaho who retired to Paonia, stopped by to see if we needed any sort of help on a volunteer basis. We do have one need, but it will take more than Rick. Something called "Friends of High Country News' is now the instigator of a sign ordered for State Highway 133 that says we'll keep two miles of the highway clean. Staff here took it over from the American Legion, which had tried to housekeep too many miles of highway. Some of us in the office have watched a brief video sent out by the Colorado Department of Transportation, and we know all the rules. We leave guns and the like alone, should we come on them; we don't wear shorts so that motorists don't get distracted by our legs; and we work against the traffic, and not too close to it.
If you might be interested in joining HCN staff in a cleanup some weekend morning, call or e-mail Betsy Marston (970/527-4898; email@example.com) and she will put you on her list.
Kate Fay and Adam Van de Water of the Colorado Smart Growth Regional Partnerships, based in Denver, stopped by after attending a meeting in western Colorado.
Nelson Denman of Santa Fe, N.M., and Yuri Blanco, who teaches environmental education at the Instituto de Ecologia in Xalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico, stopped by. They had been in Paonia to lecture on permaculture. Nelson directs the New Mexico Ecology Project.
Erin Small from Craftsbury Common, Vt., came through Paonia while on a Southwest Field Program trip, and stopped in the office to talk cartography with HCN mapmaker, Diane Sylvain.
We were sorry to hear that the San Juan Almanac - -Good thinking on cheap paper' - has called it quits after five years of literature and commentary from the Durango, Colo., area. It will be a relief for the editors - Ken Wright, Mark Seis and Lisa Lenard - -who were doing this for no pay anyway," the death notice said. But it will be a loss for everyone else.
" The staff