Environmental issues brought to the table in 'High Country News'
By Jessica Warren
The last speaker for USU Communications department's Media and Society Lecture Series discussed the trends of thought he sees in the culture of the West on Thursday.
Ed Marston spoke of his own experiences in the Western United States and the role he plays within it as publisher of "High Country News", an environmental issues newspaper based in Paonia, Colo.
The newspaper dubbed, "A Paper for People who Care about the West," covers the "one million square miles West," but reports national issues as well.
The paper began in 1970 by a Wyoming man, Tom Bell, who was frustrated with ranchers' attitudes toward the earth when they shot eagles and trapped antelope to protect their livestock.
Marston has since taken over the paper, and at his lecture at USU's Haight Alumni Center, told his story, jokingly calling himself an egomaniac.
"There's nothing more meaningful to an egomaniac than to talk about himself," said Marston.
He moved from New York City with his wife, Betsy, in 1967 to a small town in Colorado. With only 1,500 people and a main street only a block-and-a-half long, the Marstons were categorized as hippies, or, in Marston's words, anyone who wasn't a local.
With their New York City ways they and other new comers started a private school, a public radio station and a newspaper among other things to add to what Marston calls the perfect little town.
The Marston's began the newspaper and called it the "North Fort Times."
"We learned how not to be a hippie paper, but a local paper," said Marston.
Eventually, the new paper drove the existing ones out of business.
"If it's read, you could tell people what to think," said Marston of his newspaper.
Marston said the lives of the locals and those of the hippies did not intersect. The locals continued with their work and rural lifestyles while the "hippies" had their health food stores and retired-like lifestyles. Marston said this irritated the locals.
"You didn't go out of your way to tick them off; but what difference did it make if you ticked them off?" he said.
The "High Country News" draws on his experience of Western culture, and reports on issues concerning ranchers and environmentalists and those in between. Marston employs freelance writers who provide most of the material.
He has found that when it comes to these types of issues, there needs to be balance between the decision-makers.
"Bringing different sensibilities to the table" is the key to creating a community economically, environmentally and financially sound, he said.