High Country News has an unusual beat: 'the West' (or, as editor Greg Hanscom points out, more than a million square miles, half of which are public parklands).
It has an unusual financial structure: Subscriptions and donations to a nonprofit research fund make up 70 percent of the budget. And it has an unusual style: independent not only from advertisers and other moneyed interests, but also from the progressive community that forms its principal readership. 'We're not beholden to anyone,' says Hanscom.
A go-to source for coverage of the West's public lands (policy makers and big-city reporters rely on the paper's in-depth reporting), High Country recently installed a younger staff and redesigned itself as a smarter, more serious alt-biweekly of the West-and began to take more risks. 'We've thrown our readers some serious curveballs,' says Hanscom (who stepped down in November), covering, for example, Mormon Polynesian gangs in Salt Lake City and a heroin epidemic in New Mexico. 'A lot of publications aim to make their readers comfortable,' he explains. 'We intentionally throw our readers off balance. We're constantly poking holes in their assumptions. It's great!'
Subscriptions: $37/yr. (24 issues); 800/905-1155; www.hcn.org.