The good newsThe High Country News board of directors came to Paonia in late May, to mull over the finances and plan for the future.
The numbers for the first quarter of 2004 look good: Our expenses are below budget, and our income is above budget, thanks largely to a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, and to an outpouring of support from all of you in the form of donations to the Research Fund. We count on these donations to pay our editors and writers, and your generosity is a huge help to our overall effort. This year, for example, we need to raise $250,000 above subscriptions and regular donations, just to break even. Subscriptions are also up. With 23,610 subscribers, we’re about 900 ahead of where we were last year at this time.
The not-so-good newsNot everybody is happy with us: We’ve been getting angry letters from our more conservative readers in response to our coverage of the Bush administration.
"There is more polarizing environmental reporting, more editorializing in every article, and less range of topics than there has been in the past. I find this very troubling," wrote one reader. Another reader said he would not renew his subscription: "Your publication is too political."
Many of these readers pine for the days when HCN put more emphasis on efforts to manage Western land, water and wildlife through collaboration. We remain committed to following such efforts, but staff feels that the doings in D.C. are the most critical stories right now. The board gave the paper’s current direction a ringing endorsement, but if you’d like to toss in your two cents, e-mail email@example.com, or mail letters to Greg Hanscom, editor, High Country News, P.O. Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428.
The downright bad newsPaonia resident and internationally known scientist Theo Colborn spoke to the board and staff. Colborn is the co-author of the 1996 book, Our Stolen Future, which documents the effects of man-made chemicals on our bodies. She says there are over 100,000 of these chemicals in use today, and only a tiny fraction — perhaps 300 — have been tested to determine if they cause cancer.
More disturbing, said Colborn, these chemicals, many of which are derived from petroleum, are affecting our endocrine systems, which determine how fetuses develop, and how our bodies function. They’re even altering our brains. "We’re dehumanizing humans with these chemicals," she said.
Colborn also detailed the efforts by the chemical and oil industries to quash the growing body of science about "endocrine disrupter" chemicals. "Morale within the federal agencies is terrible," she said. "One of the top scientists is coming in on the weekends to water and raise his own (laboratory) rats, because his budget has been cut so much," he can’t afford to hire help.
Asked by a board member how she keeps up the fight, the energetic, 77-year-old Colborn, who speaks to audiences around the world, replied, "I don’t know whether I have a sense of hope, but I have a sense of humor."