High Country News has a new website!

How and why we’ve changed it.


It’s been nearly 45 years since Wyoming rancher Tom Bell bought a black-and-white newspaper called Camping News Weekly and turned it into High Country News, a publication dedicated to covering the American West’s unique natural resource and conservation issues. Through the decades, the magazine has made a number of changes, from altering its size and format, to printing in full color and launching a website. We’re excited to present the latest improvement: a complete redesign of that website. We want to bring you even more frequent news and in-depth features, but we also hope to retain the spirit of the original scrappy newsprint publication, that began in 1970 in Lander, Wyoming.

In 1995, around the time the Internet was beginning to take off, hcn.org was born. A tech-savvy supporter in Aspen, Colorado, built the first site pro-bono. I wasn’t here then, so I recently took a tour through the history of High Country News online with one of the Internet’s hidden gems, the Wayback Machine, which saves snapshots of old websites. What I found was both encouraging (we’ve clearly come a long way) and also enlightening (it’s odd to see forward-thinking initiatives that were phased out long ago). 

  • Hcn.org homepage 1998.

  • Hcn.org homepage 2001.

  • Hcn.org homepage 2009.

  • Hcn.org homepage in July 2014.

  • Hcn.org homepage in 2015, with the new August 2014 redesign.

It’s been seven years since we last redesigned hcn.org. In this newest incarnation, our stories are displayed more visually, with larger and better photography. We hope you’ll find it easier to search the site by topic, share stories with your social networks and unearth past HCN coverage. The Goat Blog, created in 2006 for web-only content, no longer exists; we’ve decided to simply integrate our digital news with stories from the pages of our twice-monthly print magazine. Narrative storytelling, wonky explainers and newsy bits are all part of the way we cover the West. The stories we think are the most timely, well-reported and important — no matter what package they come in — are what you’ll see at the top of hcn.org on a daily basis.

Writers on the Range, our syndicated opinion service, now sports a new logo and its own webpage. Our inimitable and irreplaceable humor column, Heard Around the West, still graces the back page of the print edition and is now easier to find online.

Here are a few tips on how to navigate the new site:

Members or subscribers can log in from the upper-right corner of the homepage. Our search box is also still in the upper right, where you can enter a search term and find related coverage:

To access the top navigation bar from anywhere but the homepage, click the “MENU” button in the upper-left corner:

 Our handy news topics bar will then appear, and you can use it to seek out more content. And you can always click “High Country News” to get back to the homepage:

Both established and emerging writers — including Michael Branch, Jonathan Thompson and Cally Carswell — now have their own spaces on the website so you can follow their every move … er, word. Click “Voices” to access their work.

To browse our archives, click “The Magazine,” or check the editors’ weekly pick of a story from the archives, which will be featured on the homepage here:

What happens when you read a fascinating story and want to find more on the subject? One way is to click on a key word or related story at the bottom of the page:

 Finally: How do you support HCN’s independent, nonprofit journalism? Just click:

Take a look around the site and tell us what you think. We’re still working out the kinks, so if you find broken links or other bugs, feel free to let us know by emailing [email protected].

Finally, we owe big thanks to ATEN Design Group, which created the lion’s share of the new design. Our website may look different, but our strong commitment to covering important issues of the American West hasn’t changed a bit. As always, thanks for reading. Now, there are stories happening as we speak. Let’s get back to it. ­

Tay Wiles is the online editor at High Country News.  She tweets. Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that hcn.org was first launched in 1996. Upon further consideration, staff memory indicates it was actually 1995, which this story has been changed to reflect.

High Country News Classifieds