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HCN enters the digital world


On a beautiful blue-skied June weekend, the High Country News Board of Directors gathered at our headquarters in Paonia, Colo., to discuss everything from how the editorial staff develops story ideas to the ongoing evolution of digital technology. A presentation by staff on plans to roll out HCN content for mobile phones, tablet computers and other devices ignited a lively discussion on how best to reach and serve an increasingly tech-savvy public. Several board members expressed their hope that the new technologies, combined with more aggressive marketing, would grow HCN's paid readership, which has hovered around 23,000 for the past five years.

Delivering content digitally is cheaper than printing and mailing a print magazine, but it has its own costs. At the next board meeting in Reno, Nev., Sept. 16-17, the board and staff will focus on planning for the resources needed to become a fully modern media organization. (Don't worry, we have no intention of abandoning the print version of HCN!)

No matter how many ways we deliver our content, we'll always need editorial interns. The board also discussed HCN's intern program, which for 30 years has provided hands-on training for the next generation of writers and journalists. The program costs about $80,000 a year; an Intern Fund campaign in 2006 has financed the program for the past five years, but it's now running low. The board agreed to revive the Fund with a focused fundraising campaign over the next nine months. For more details, contact development associate Alyssa Pinkerton, [email protected]

Tannis Bator, a former educator from Greeley, Colo., stopped by to say hello, and left with a new subscription. She and her husband visit Paonia every year to experience some of the North Fork's stunning scenery -- not to mention our excellent local wines.

Readers Star and Gene Parsons from the town of Caspar, in Mendocino County, Calif., dropped by our office on an early June day, when snow was still falling in the high country. Paonia is Star's old stomping ground: Her father, Florian, was born here, and her great-uncle Orange (and yes, that is his given name) was both a printmaker and molder of bricks; one of his brick buildings, the town's Christian Church, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Gene, who was the drummer for both the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, told us they'd driven to Colorado through the towering smoke of Arizona's still-uncontained wildfires but managed to dodge the fires themselves. The only real excitement of their trip so far was watching their dog Tilly impersonate a black bear at a campground. Two women staying in a nearby tent took one look at their fuzzy, 50-pound dog, assumed it was a bear and fled back to their car. This was great fun for Tilly, who chased them, said Gene, but definitely not as enjoyable for the frightened tourists.

Alert reader Don Patteson of Las Cruces, N.M., sent us a note about our June 27 issue: "I'm sure that I am not the first nor the last to point out that the (Mexican) wolf restoration program was in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, not eastern New Mexico and western Arizona." Actually, you were the only one to point out that goof, Don -- thanks.