EDITOR’S NOTE: A New Era for Western Water
Western Water’s online format bridges gap in water resource journalism, gives readers easier access to important stories
Welcome to the reinvented version of our Western Water magazine! After more than 40 years of churning out a printed magazine, which was a quarterly publication in its last iteration, we turned to the internet this month to launch Western Water in an online format.
While it’s not easy for veteran journalists like me and others at the Water Education Foundation to give up the familiar printed newspaper or magazine, we’ve known for some time that people are changing the way they get information. In the last few years, we ramped up our social media efforts, especially on Twitter and Facebook, to reach people interested in water resource issues.
Going online with Western Water allows our longtime readers to access stories easier and gives us the opportunity to produce more articles for them with dynamic features. We’ll keep up the in-depth articles that we’re known for, but we’re adding Q&As with water leaders, researchers and others, as well as spotlight articles highlighting successful projects that are managing water resources well and serve as a model for others. We’ll also update readers on things we’ve covered in the past, and take them on the road with us as we venture into the heartland of California and the Southwest to visit its rivers, water works and special places like the Grand Canyon.
Unfortunately, many newsrooms across the West continue to shrink, leaving fewer and fewer reporters on the water beat and readers without information to this critical resource. While we can’t cover the comings and goings of daily water news, we want Western Water to fill some of that gap so that as many people who want to read about water are able to access the stories, whether they are a farmer, a scientist, a board member of a water district, a customer of that district, or someone who, like us, considers themselves a water geek.
At the Foundation we have three veteran journalists – Gary Pitzer, Doug Beeman and yours truly – helping to shape, write and edit Western Water. Between us, we have more than 75 years of experience. And we have a Board of Directors that includes experts on all sides of the water debate who act as our sounding board, giving us insight and feedback.
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Our first in-depth article for our reinvented Western Water explores whether California should grant a water right to the environment. It’s an interesting question posed by the Public Policy Institute of California, and one we thought we’d dig deeper into. Over the last year, as you’ll read in our featured article, there has been a movement to establish “personhood” for rivers across the globe and in the United States to give them their own rights. While legally complicated, is the idea so far-fetched? When you think about it, our nickname for the Colorado River is the “lifeblood of the Southwest,” a nod to its power to help sustain the lives of some 40 million people and grow the food they rely on.
I can’t say enough about the team at Digital Deployment, our web developer around the block from us in midtown Sacramento, for helping us expand the ability of our website to take on this new venture.
And we’re grateful to our longtime supporters and hope they enjoy what we are doing. As always, feel free to call or email me with any feedback.