Evolution of a magazine

  • Paul Larmer, executive director


Is High Country News a newspaper or a magazine? For the past decade, our staff and board have wrestled with this question. In a sense, the wrestling was unnecessary. Long ago (if you consider 1970 long ago) the question was answered when our founder, Tom Bell, decided that HCN would come out every two weeks, rather than daily or weekly, so editors and writers could pursue stories with a depth rarely found in the rapidly churning world of newspapers. But with this latest issue, we are laying the debate aside for good: High Country News is a magazine.

We hope you enjoy the new design, the new departments, the new slightly smaller format and the new paper stock (which for the first time in a long while contains post-consumer waste and pulp from sustainably harvested forests). HCN is a work in progress, and we are eager to hear what you think. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

With this special extra-long books and essay issue, we are also launching a new publishing schedule. Over the course of a year, you will receive four double issues, each with a special theme, exploring topics at a length  -- and depth  -- that a regular issue cannot provide. We will also change our printing schedule from 24 times a year to 22 times a year. If you've already paid for a yearlong subscription, don't worry: We will automatically extend your subscription two issues so that you receive 24 issues. Future yearlong subscriptions and renewals, however, will be for 22 issues. Expect the next issue in your mailbox Oct. 13.

Why are we doing this? To serve you better. Under the new publishing schedule, our editorial staff will be better able to plan for each issue, pursuing more relevant stories and presenting them in more interesting ways. And the four special issues each year will give you even more thought-provoking stories to chew on than before.

We may be shedding the final remnants of our newspaper skin, but that doesn't mean that High Country News is any less committed to keeping you tuned to the breaking news in the West. Our Web site, hcn.org, has become the place where our editors can comment quickly and cogently on the news of the day. In fact, it's becoming home to some of our most exciting content. We recently deployed editorial teams to both national political conventions, where they blogged and recorded events from a distinctly HCN perspective. We hope you will check out their coverage (see below) and lend your voice to the ongoing dialogue about the West.

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].

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