Dear HCN: Reader survey responses


Our annual reader surveys have been trickling in, and as always, they're chock-full of thoughtful criticism, enthusiastic encouragement, and suggestions for widening -- or narrowing -- our field of view. Here's a sampling of what's on your mind.

One of the things we appreciated is that HCN is apolitical. I found Tom Zoellner's "Extreme Arizona" unpleasantly left-leaning. I showed it to four different friends, and they came to the same conclusion. I hope HCN can leave politics out of future articles. We get enough of that elsewhere.

The writing for the article on Gabby Giffords and Arizona was excellent. I hope you can continue to publish such high-quality work. Also, the article on the water guy was excellent.

Until I traveled out West to hike I had no idea how blind-sighted one could be living in the Northeast. We are such a diverse nation. Here in New York / New Jersey, newspapers only report on politics and killings. Your paper is my only source for all the really important issues. Because you report in-depth, I am able to be an educated voter.

I depend on every issue to stay abreast of the issues of our time.

We will never have healthy wild ecosystems without top-level carnivores. We can never have the return of these carnivores as long as livestock grazing is predominant on public lands. Focus on this.

HCN is a great filler of an information gap I can fill no other way.

I still loathe the new motto. "A paper for people who care about the West" was a wonderful motto. What does the grotesquely truncated form -- without the words "a paper" -- even mean? Every time I look at it I shudder. And when you ask me for money, I think, "Why should I give money to these barbarians?" Foolish actions have consequences, people!

Please continue to strive to remain objective and balanced in your reporting. Although I'm almost always sympathetic to your views, I need to know "the other side's" arguments, too.

There seems to be more liberal bias creeping into your pages in recent years.

I know it's hard because you have so many Republican readers, but it really is the GOP far more than Democrats that have promulgated policy that contributes to pollution, global warming, sprawl, loss of habitat, etc. You need to point that out.

I prefer a focus on the Intermountain West. California should have its own equivalent of HCN.

Keep up the good work, particularly your coverage of Oregon, Washington and California.

More on wolves and politics.

I like the headlines. The articles generally disappoint me. They're not comprehensive, lack context, and do not adequately explain economics.

As an ex-New Englander, who lived for 10 years in Colorado and has a cabin in the Sangres, you help me escape from L.A.!

As a consummate generalist, I nearly always read every article and essay and come away better informed and ready to engage friends in discussion. The variety of your coverage and the quality of writing compels me to immediately tear into the latest issue. (Unfortunately, due to others -- er, freeloaders -- similarly enamored of your copy, sometimes my issues never get to my P.O. box.) Call me a very satisfied subscriber who likes the current mix and can accept change as you see fit.

While editing remains a tad uneven issue to issue, it has improved vastly in recent years. Your pay rates for freelancers remain astonishingly low. Surely that affects the magazine's content. Please continue the vibrant graphics -- now a hallmark of HCN! Great, gritty publication!

I love the fact that the things you cover show up in The New York Times months later, and they never even do as good a job as you. The only thing I would like to see more of is Western cultural weirdness -- there is so much of it available.

You have become pretty much a quasi-political publication and have thus driven off real rancher types who are suspicious of HCN for its egalitarian obsessions. I stay with HCN because of its tenacity and its whistle-blowing capability.

Do you know that vast areas of the West have no cell coverage? Your digital media efforts are wasted on those outside of metro areas. That's why I live where I do. No TV, no cell service, no Internet -- just plain old telephone service.

I don't always agree with your angles or conclusions, but that's natural. It is reassuring to know that you are working on actual journalism.

Congratulations on developing the reporting and writing skills of young, aspiring reporters.

Sometimes I feel like issues are covered in a way that is too sensitive or optimistic. Give us the tough news, the facts that maybe we don't want to hear, but need to know!

HCN is almost the only way I can get info on the West while I am in extended exile here on the Potomac.

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