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Know the West

Meet HCN’s new editor-in-chief

Our readers have high expectations, and Jennifer Sahn is up for the charge.


We usually reserve this space for a wide-angle glimpse of what you’ll find inside the magazine, but this month, I want to discuss a different beginning: the newest member of our staff.

Carex chihuahuensis (Chihuahuan sedge), from Atascosa Borderlands, a visual storytelling project.
Luke Swenson and Jack Dash

Editing High Country News is not a job for the faint of heart. We cover the West’s thorniest issues and gravitate without hesitation toward difficult conversations. And you, our readers, expect incisive, fair and meaningful work. HCN’s new editor-in-chief, Jennifer Sahn, is up to the task.

Jennifer spent her formative years at Orion magazine and later helped lead Pacific Standard. In her 20-plus years in the business, she has earned a reputation as a thoughtful and demanding editor. Conservationist and author Terry Tempest Williams wrote to me recently to praise Jennifer as “smart, tough, rigorous and instinctive. … She nurtures and challenges her writers at once.”

Jennifer understands the power of journalism to drive dialogue, bridge cultural divides and create real change in the world. Just as importantly, she has a deep love for the West. She thrives in those places where the human and natural worlds meet — HCN’s native habitat.

With Jennifer at the helm, you can expect High Country News to stay true to its deep roots in Western soil and committed to giving you the information you need to work for a better future. The West faces daunting challenges, but we remain determined to enlighten and inspire our readers. We know you expect nothing less.

Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Sahn.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to Katherine Lanpher, who served as interim editor-in-chief this winter. Katherine worked tirelessly with our staff and freelancers to “commit great journalism,” as she likes to say. She supported our editorial team through a divisive national election, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and gun violence that hit much too close to home.

Katherine is a veteran of daily newspapers, public radio and digital news, and her tough-minded, quick-to-laugh approach proved just the right medicine for our team — and me — during these trying times. For the care that you put into each word that went into the magazine, Katherine, we thank you. Thanks, too, for taking such good care of us.

Greg Hanscom, executive director and publisher

This issue showcases the wide-ranging “work of the word” that Katherine has fostered. Luke Swenson and Jack Dash’s photo essay about the Atascosa Highlands introduces us to a tiny sliver of Arizona that hosts an incredible abundance of life. We hear about people who look to the LA River for sustenance and about a second-grade class in Denver tackling wolf reintroduction. There’s a potent critique of land acknowledgements and a report on Eugene, Oregon’s search for unique solutions in the fight against climate change.

Read on and enjoy. Here’s to fresh beginnings.

Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.