Standing tall for storytellers

As I wrote this in April, The Denver Post had just published an editorial taking its hedge fund owner, Alden Global Capital, to task for attempting to squeeze every dime from the publication.
I grew up reading that newspaper. It provided me a wide lens into the world beyond my childhood home at the foot of Colorado’s Front Range. Charlie Meyers, the Post’s legendary outdoor columnist, was a master storyteller who captured the magic of getting outside while also holding policy makers accountable for decisions that might negatively impact it or the public’s ability to enjoy it. After his death in 2010, Colorado named a state wildlife area in his honor, but five years later, the Post’s outdoor section largely died too, amid staffing cuts.
This April’s courageous editorial came in response to the layoff of yet another 30 employees — a third of the Post’s remaining staff, which has fallen from 250 to fewer than 100 in just a few years’ time.
“Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom,” the editorial board wrote. “If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.”
Standing up for the role of journalists in our society is something I hope grows epidemic. It strikes at the heart of OWAA’s creed that we believe in outdoor reporting as a public trust; that accuracy, fairness and clarity are fundamental to our profession; and that the true test of our work is the measure of its public service.
By telling the truth and celebrating all that is at stake, outdoor writers, photographers and artists motivated this nation to protect places like Yellowstone and Yosemite, to pass the Wilderness Act, to create the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Duck Stamp program and countless other landmarks that now define the outdoors and our ability to find adventure there.
For more than 90 years, this organization has sought to unite the most influential voices for America’s outdoors as a force for good, provided a forum to sharpen our professional skills and to open new doors in the face of monumental challenges.
That’s more important than ever today. Some of the pillars of America’s outdoor heritage are now being chiseled and discredited as never before. It’s up to us to communicate what we stand to lose in these exchanges while also seeking ways to refine our professional media platforms instead of selling them for scrap.
As OWAA president I want to see us stand together as an organization to address what’s at stake in these challenging times, and to be an incubator for innovative ideas and platforms that allow us to make a living doing the essential work we do. I hope you’ll join me in that effort. ♦

OWAA president Paul Queneau is conservation editor of Bugle magazine at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

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