Chris Setti's work is a lot like that done by High Country News. He attempts to cover about 600,000 square miles of the West (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) with a few hundred square miles of resources. So when he stopped by our office a few weeks ago, we had a lot to talk about. Chris works for JACS - Joint Action in Community Service - a nonprofit that helps thousands of young people who emerge each year from the nation's 100-plus Job Corps centers. They've learned a skill, but need help to find jobs and otherwise integrate themselves into their communities.
Chris is in Denver, while most of the young people he works with live in small towns and on Indian reservations scattered across the West. He gets his job done through a 200-person network of volunteers who know their communities and are ready to lend a helping hand if one is needed. If you might be interested in volunteering, he can be reached at 800/852-8988. And if you live beyond Chris's territory, but would still like to volunteer, call him and he will put you in touch with one of his fellow regional directors.
Best of Colorado
Normally, HCN Web master Chris Wehner roams the world without ever leaving his desktop computer, but in early February he drove over the Rockies to the Brown Palace Hotel to accept an award from the Colorado Press Association. The High Country News Web site that Chris designed was named one of the "Best of Colorado," and the presenter was Bruce Henderson of the University of Colorado journalism and media school.
During the awards presentation, each of the 20 award-winning sites was singled out for something noteworthy. Judges especially liked how visitors to the High Country News site could not only see the newspaper, but listen to "Radio High Country News." Among HCN's fellow winners were the Aspen Daily Times, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.
If you would like to see HCN's site, just type in www.hcn.org and your internet provider will take you right to it.
Ted Smith of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation in Cambridge, Mass., visited to see exactly what HCN has been doing with the funding the foundation has provided to the intern program. He spent the morning talking with our current interns - Robyn Morrison and Catherine Lutz - as well as with three former interns: Michelle Nijhuis, Paul Larmer and Rebecca Clarren, who are on the editorial staff. Out for the day was Greg Hanscom, another former intern.
The presence of so many former interns is no accident: The paper hires heavily out of its pool of around 140 former interns. They know us, we know them, and they have certainly paid their dues.
If Ted had wanted to, we could have gone out on the street and bumped into several other former interns: one owns the local movie theater, one runs a local environmental group, one works for the Forest Service, one is a teacher, one manages an art gallery, and so on.
Ted's criticism was that two interns at a time may not be enough. The funding the Kendall Foundation can provide High Country News is coming to an end, but Ted promised to help us figure out how to strengthen and, maybe, expand the intern program.
Hong Kong and Paonia
Brook Larmer, bureau chief in Asia for Newsweek, spent an hour with the staff of High Country News describing a typical month in his reportorial life: first a story about a Chinese basketball player being recruited by the National Basketball Association, then a visit to a restless island in Indonesia, and finally a meat-and-potatoes story on the presidential election on Taiwan.
Brook, who closely reads High Country News because his brother Paul is senior editor here, and because he says it's an interesting newspaper, says the journalistic fundamentals are the same for both publications: presenting compelling stories that are clearly written. But the details of a pan-Asian beat - where one word can have six different tones creating six different meanings - are a little different from the details of a pan-Western beat.
Jeff Schwartz and Tracey Silberman, most recently of Flagstaff, Ariz., came into the office in early February, to check out the paper, and to talk to us about local organic farms.
Pete Harris, from nearby Fruita, Colo., had to go all the way to Shaktoolik, Alaska, to find High Country News. Harris, who works part-time in Alaska for the fishing industry, was on a boat near the village of Shaktoolik last June. "We were stuck in the ice pack in Norton Sound, and there was nothing to read," says Harris. His coworker, subscriber Mark Rhodes, saved him from boredom (we hope) with a couple of copies of this paper. "He said, 'Hey, if you want to read something good, read this,' " says Harris.
Eighth grade English teacher and HCN reader Caryn Gostlin stopped by on her day off. Caryn lives in nearby Cedaredge, and quickly realized she had ties to a few HCN staffers, making us realize what a small world western Colorado can be.