Now taking applications for the Diverse Western Voices Award

High Country News, in partnership with PLAYA, is accepting applications for the Diverse Western Voices Award.

High Country News believes that diverse voices in journalism are essential for fresh and accurate coverage of the American West. But across the industry, there is a concerning lack of representation: According to a 2018 article by the Columbia Journalism Review, for example, “racial and ethnic minorities comprise almost 40 percent of the US population, yet they make up less than 17 percent of newsroom staff at print and online publications, and only 13 percent of newspaper leadership.”

The Diverse Western Voices Award will go to an exceptional journalist of color to support a project of deep reporting and narrative journalism based in the American West. The recipient will work closely with the editorial department at High Country News on an in-depth feature story of 3,500 to 4,900 words, which will be published in the magazine and online. The journalist will receive: 

  • A two- to three-week residency (and potentially four weeks for international or residents with ADA requirements) at PLAYA in Oregon with housing and meals provided
  • A $1,000 stipend for travel associated with the PLAYA residency 
  • Payment for the story and associated expenses upon publication in High Country News, as described in our submission guidelines
  • Mentorship from a High Country News editor for the duration of the editorial process

Thank you to PLAYA and its staff for the generous donation of this residency award. 


  1. The final feature will be between 3,500 and 4,900 words. 
  2. Please keep pitches under 500 words. Information on story pitches can be found hereStory pitches should be submitted for review by March 15.
  3. Submit a brief bio and contact information along with your pitch to our managing editor, Brian Calvert, at [email protected]. Please include the phrase “PLAYA prize” or “Diverse Western Voices Award” in your email subject line.
  4. The winner will be notified by April 15.
  5. Reporting will occur between April and September and the feature will be printed in a subsequent issue.
  6. The residency will be served in the calendar year specified.
  7. The travel stipend for the PLAYA residency will be given once your space is booked. While we highly encourage you to utilize the experience of the residency and its resources while writing your feature, it is not a requirement. More information about PLAYA can be found at

The Diverse Western Voices award is driven by High Country News’ mission to inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities and PLAYA’s mission to give individuals the space, solitude and community to create work that supports innovative thinking in the arts, literature and natural sciences.

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