High Country News seeks multimedia pitches

Great news from High Country News – now accepting freelance pitches!! Details HERE and below.




High Country News, a Colorado-based nonprofit newsmagazine, seeks pitches for compelling video and audio stories. High Country News has been around for over 40 years, and is known for its independent, in-depth, award-winning coverage of environmental, natural resource and cultural issues.

Our coverage area includes the 11 Western states: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Occasionally we make forays into Alaska and the High Plains.


What we want:


We are looking for videographers and photographers who want to create videos or audio slideshows that include strong narrative storytelling elements for our website, www.hcn.org. We like character-driven stories, action, beauty and surprise.


We are also interested in animated videos that explain a science or policy process in a viewer-friendly way.


Most video pieces will fall in the range of 3-7 minutes, although we're open to series or longer stories.


We are also open to pitches for audio postcards, and narrated or non-narrated produced pieces – preferably sound rich – for our soon-to-be expanded monthly podcast, High Country Views. Additionally, we’re interested in collecting unique and unexpected sonic IDs from around the West. They need not all be “natural” sounds; just great, interesting sounds from our coverage area.


What we don't want:


We are not interested in TV-news style stories, talking heads or straightforward Q&As. We don't cover breaking news, and we don't want stories that everyone else is already covering.



For the next year, we seek work in the following thematic areas, although pitches outside these topics that fit into High Country News’ core coverage areas, will also be considered. (See our website for examples of stories we run.)


How the "One Percent" shape the West, both positively and negatively.

Rich people aren't like you and me. They have a lot of power, and can use it for public benefit (consider Ted Turner's land conservation) or for private gain (land swaps giving wealthy individuals public lands in exchange for private parcels of sometimes questionable value). How are the One Percent shaping the West? Pitches in this vein could consider local and state politics, public lands, mega energy corporations and their influence, etc.


The post-Recession world, and where the West goes now.

The housing boom is dead, and it’s not coming back. Poverty is rising. Unemployment is up. Median incomes are only rising in drilling boomtowns like Gillette, Wyoming. Only roughnecks and the super rich seem to have come out of the economic crisis somewhat unscathed. Post-recession, are individuals and communities rebuilding their economies? How? Stories within this topic could include place and character profiles of economic successes — and failures.


Lessons for the West from the rest of the world.

Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin has seen remarkable water reform in recent years in response to a long and devastating drought. European cities have solved growth and transportation problems that Western cities can’t seem to get a handle on. What can Western communities learn from these parts of the world and other grappling with the same issues we do? Possibilities include on-the-ground stories of Western localities learning from the wide world around them, or even stories from abroad that have particular relevance for the American West.


How developments in science and technology are changing what we know about wildlife and landscapes

From advances in genetics to mechanical advances in wildlife tracking and equipment, scientists are always learning more about flora and fauna. Is that knowledge helping land managers make better decisions? This topic might lend itself to explanatory animations, or documentary-style stories about quirky, innovative scientists and charismatic wildlife.


Restoration science grows up.

The West is full of degraded landscapes. The science, social science and collaborative relationships necessary to restore them may be coming into its own. And more ambitious projects are constantly being attempted. Stories in this vein might track new work; longstanding efforts implementing promising, innovative techniques in landscapes that have been seen as all but lost; profile scientists on the cutting edge of their field; cover innovative work or surprising new political alliances in communities in iconic environments that are allowing restoration work to progress to new heights. Restoration stories seem to easily fall into the trap of all sounding the same; be careful to tell us why yours is surprising among all those others out there, or how the characters driving it will give an old story new life.


Large-scale environmental change and how it hits home.

From climate change to the rapid pace of new energy development, massive environmental transformations are already underway in the West and are expected to become even more pronounced in the future. How are these transformations changing how individuals and communities work and interact with the land?


Whom we'll work with:


Anyone with passion for a story and the desire to tell it through video or sound. We encourage students and new producers to pitch us; while we consider experience when making decisions, we're mostly interested in the quality of your idea and how well it fits our needs.


We don’t have a set-in-stone pay scale. If your pitch is accepted, compensation will be negotiated based on experience and project scope. Our budget is small, however, so if you're a major video producer looking for $15,000 for an 8-minute doc, we're not the publication for you.


If you're already working on a documentary project and think a segment of it might fit our needs, pitch us, and maybe we can support you with travel funding and a payment for the clips we use.


Like most underfunded nonprofits, we love collaboration, and are open to working with existing institutions or news organizations.


Please send inquiries to multimedia@hcn.org with a subject header of "Multimedia story query."


Please feel free to share this call for pitches. While our network runs far and deep (we are reporters, after all) there are likely amazing multimedia journalists who didn't receive this note. Feel free to send it along to them.

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