A most welcome winter

Former editorial fellows receive recognition, and fact-checking curious visitors swing through the office.


Looking out on the rain now washing away last weekend’s snow here in Spokane, Washington, I envy the folks at High Country News’ home base in Colorado, where a healthy dose of white stuff is flying around the Rocky Mountains (though not, as of press time, in Paonia). The people of the Four Corners are particularly grateful, given the persistent drought that has gripped the region lately.

Full of frosty trees for rosy-cheeked families, Grand Mesa, just north of Paonia, was bustling the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Luna Anna Archey/High Country News
In November, on the campus of our satellite office at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert introduced author Michael Kodas, co-director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism, who discussed his recent book, Megafire: The Race To Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame. The discussion was especially timely, given California’s catastrophic wildfires and the Nov. 23 release of the second volume of the 4th National Climate Assessment, which estimates that “the area burned by wildfire across the western United States from 1984 to 2015 was twice what would have burned had climate change not occurred.”

Frequent HCN contributor (and former editorial fellow) Ben Goldfarb’s book Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter made The Washington Post’s list of “50 notable works of nonfiction in 2018.” An excerpt from the book, “How beavers make the desert bloom,” appeared earlier this year in the magazine (HCN, 9/3/18). In its one-sentence description of Eager, The Washington Post asks: “Can those paddle-tailed, buck-toothed dam builders offer humans some help in restoring our ailing environment?” We here at HCN know that Ben’s answer is a resounding yes. Congratulations, Ben, on a “dam” fine book!

Meanwhile, an article from former editorial fellow Lyndsey Gilpin appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review. In “What I’ve learned in two years trying to shift narratives about the South,” Lyndsey describes how she tries to tell nuanced stories about the region in her upstart publication, Southerly.

Ted Wood, who photographed oil and gas development — and the people affected by it — for our story, “When Your Neighborhood Goes Boom,” (HCN, 10/29/18) stopped in at the Paonia office just before Thanksgiving. Ted, who says the story drew a lot of attention on Colorado’s Front Range, was passing through Paonia with Amanda Prentiss and a crazy Boston terrier named Tilly, on a road trip that included Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Basalt, Colorado.

A group of 15 people from the Montrose Rec Center in nearby Montrose, Colorado, spent well over an hour touring the Paonia office Nov. 15, asking probing and intelligent questions, such as, “What kind of mistakes do you especially watch out for in fact-checking?” Copy editor Diane Sylvain joked about always double-checking names and definitions, specifically noting the correct explanation of NEPA. Guess what: In “Sagebrush Rebel appointed to Interior Department” (HCN, 11/26/18), we failed to do just that. The federal environmental law NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act, not the National Environmental Protection Act. We regret the error, and not for the first time.

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