The best notes from our reader surveys

We asked you for advice, and here’s what you said.


Dear HCN …
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. 

  • Please continue to hold the spoilers, environmental bandits and money-grubbers’ feet to the fire. This country in the West has been trashed enough. 
  • In this age of information overload, there’s such a thing as too much to read. I like HCN because it offers well-considered articles of appropriate depth. More isn’t necessarily better.  
  • Some articles require a small amount of politics to make sense of the writing. Please keep politics at a low level.
  • Greater emphasis on reporting on misuse of public lands.
  • I like the “homey” style and regularity of appearance. The more “slick,” the less appealing.
  • Generally, I read HCN cover-to-cover. It’s nice to sit back in a comfortable chair by the woodstove and savor it!
  • Stop the recitation of Paonia visitors in “Dear Friends” and use the space for content.
  • I appreciate your efforts to strike a balance between reporting on the negative consequences of oil and gas drilling, fracking and impacts to water supply versus the American need for oil and gas production.
  • A couple years ago, I subscribed (to HCN) for our Verona, Wisconsin, public library. The librarian tells me the magazine is well-read and frequently checked out. 
  • Add community dynamics in the changing West. 
  • I hope you touchy-feely types in Paonia can get used to the fact that hunting and fishing are important forms of recreation.
  • I’ve been subscribing for 32 years, and the last year has been the best yet! 
  • You manage to piss me off every issue — one way or another.
  •  (1) More Craig Childs.  (2) When you run stories that require imminent management or political action, provide constructive suggestions to readers who want to make a meaningful comment. 
  • More focus on environmental racism/justice.
  • Emphasize science more and its influence (or lack of influence) on policy.
  • I don’t care to read about social issues in metropolitan areas. 
  • I love the spirit with which you approach your articles, and the pieces are written with detail and precision, the facts supported, etc. 
  • More stories, fewer ads. (I know, I know.)
  • The overall tone is good — serious, sincere, without being sanctimonious or morbidly pessimistic. 
  • Bigger, better photos, and more hard-truth investigative reporting and less fluffy feature stories.
  • More fact-checking means fewer corrections. More points of view means fewer “clarifications” and peevish letters to the editor. 
  • I moved to Michigan and thought I could do without my HCN subscription. I was wrong. 
  • The “Marketplace” section has long annoyed me. It would be so encouraging to read of actual employment for a “real, normal” person, someone with some skills but not of an “executive director” nature. And while I’m at it: Real estate that is affordable for someone outside of the 1 percent, or even 10 percent!
  • Have at least one climate-related article in each issue, with maps. 
  • Let’s see a High Country News podcast in an interesting and thoughtful format. 
  • The cold, clear, factual reporting is what keeps me subscribing. 
  • Be somewhat less supportive of consumptive users of public lands  — grazers, historic subsistence users, ATV-use expansion, mining, etc. Be a more forceful advocate for conservation, even if some Old West ways of life must change. 
  • Stick to environmental issues. I quit donating to your Research Fund when you ran the article on the “Gangs of Zion,” Aug. 8, 2005.
  • I appreciate your reporting of issues in much greater depth than my local paper would.
  • The pictures are good — but, I sometimes wonder if it is really necessary to give so much space to pictures.  
  • I read every word of every issue except for your travel issues, which have been a waste of printing the last several years. I have come to dread the time when the travel issue is printed. 
  • You have done a good job of reporting the environmental damage and hazards that abound in the West. I challenge you to balance your articles with the positive side of what is happening. 
  • The kind of news, essays and thoughtful letters from readers are simply not found elsewhere.
  • The commenters’ rants on Facebook or Twitter are not helpful and are often misleading or divisive.
  • Just keep on keepin’ on!  It is all great.
  • I feel better informed about our area’s political process because of your reporting.
  • Do what you must for the publication and your staff so that you remain a viable source and reference on those topics you choose to report on.
  • Continue truly in-depth, unbiased investigations. Minimize “shrill,” biased, out-of-context, “enviro,” ill-researched junk.
  • I am acutely aware of how much work goes into publishing an independent paper, and what an uphill battle it is most of the time. Kudos to you all for putting out such a reliably high-quality product.
  • I hope that your view of what journalism is and must remain in a free society will never change.

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