Brian Calvert - In-Depth Journalism in the New West - Mountain & Prairie Podcast

Brian Calvert is the Editor-in-Chief of the High Country News, a non-profit media organization that covers the defining stories of the American West. Since 1970, High Country News has been fully committed to in-depth journalism that explores complex relationships between the West's communities, business interests, and the natural world. In our current media climate that seems to celebrate surface-level, hastily written news stories, High Country News remains committed to long-form, well-researched, and nuanced explorations of complicated issues. • Brian is a fourth-generation Wyoming native who grew up in Pinedale at the base of the spectacular Wind River Range. A blue-collar upbringing, a stint in the Army, time working in the oil fields, and years spent overseas as a foreign correspondent have given Brian a unique and valuable perspective into the relationship between people and place. This depth of experience allows Brian to approach Western issues with a curious, patient, and balanced style that is becoming more and more rare in today’s media. • I was on Colorado’s Western Slope for work and stopped by the High Country News office in Paonia to chat with Brian. We had a fascinating conversation about the history of High Country News and how its commitment to in-depth journalism is more important now than ever. We discussed Brian’s upbringing in Wyoming, and why he chose to pursue journalism as a career. We talked about his time spent as a foreign correspondent in places like Cambodia, China, and Afghanistan, as well as the lessons he learned from living in such intense and sometimes dangerous environments. And as you’ve come to expect, we discussed his favorite books, authors, and places in the American West. • There’s a lot to learn in this episode, so please check out the episode notes for links to everything we discuss. Also, please visit the High Country News website or consider ordering a print subscription. Brian and his team are doing important work that deserves support from thoughtful, curious folks like the listeners of this podcast. Enjoy! ••• ••• Topics Discussed: 2:35 - How Brian describes his work 3:15 - History of the High Country News 5:30 - Moving HCN to Paonia 7:00 - HCN’s non-profit model 12:15 - Current shifts in modern journalism 15:30 - Challenges of producing in-depth news in the age of Twitter 21:40 - Thoughts on the rawness and plain-spokenness of the West 24:00 - Brian’s early years in Pinedale 26:25 - Joining the Army and National Guard 27:00 - Desire to write and see the world 28:20 - Adventurous childhood 30:45 - From college to foreign correspondent 33:33 - Working in Cambodia 35:20 - Where Brian was on 9/11 36:30 - Moving back to WY and working in the oil fields 40:55 - Scary events overseas 45:00 - Adjusting to US after life in war zones 47:00 - Learning to surf and surfing as a healing process 49:45 - Being selected for the Ted Scripps Fellowship 51:00 - Opportunity at HCN 53:20 - In-depth journalism in the era of “fake news” 55:25 - Importance of high values in unbiased journalism 1:00:00 - Importance of considering all sides of arguments 1:02:15 - Role of HCN in journalism for a diverse readership 1:05:30 - Favorite books about the West 1:07:50 - The American West as an idea 1:11:30 - Interesting and weird hobbies 1:12:25 - Poetry 1:14:20 - Favorite location in the West 1:15:35 - Best advice ever receive 1:16:00 - Request of the listeners 1:17:00 - Connect with Brian
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