Issue 25: A new era

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When Patagon Journal published the first issue of its magazine in December 2011, the tremendous ecological values of the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina were still largely underappreciated by society as a whole. Moreover, there were serious threats to the region’s future, led by the massive HidroAysen hydroelectric project that would have turned Chilean Patagonia into an energy sacrifice zone. As I wrote on our website when launching Patagon Journal: "Economic initiatives proposed or underway, such as mining, salmon farming and energy development projects, threaten to transform the landscape in ways that could leave the natural and cultural essence of the Patagonia region a sad memory.”
The beginnings of this magazine were incredibly difficult, however. Unfortunately, we did not have – and still don’t have – a wealthy financier or millionaire owner to back our work. Instead, we resorted to raising a modest $US 15,000 from the public via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in September 2011 to enable us to publish at least our first two editions. What we did have were several journalists, writers, photographers, environmentalists, climbers, fishermen, travel experts and more who shared a passion for Patagonia. As the leader of this magazine, I brought my experience to the table having worked as a correspondent for Newsweek magazine and several newspapers for over a decade.
Crafted with care and attention to detail – with paper, design and graphics rivaling magazines coming out of companies many times our size – we moved forward attracting loyal readers quickly. We published apps in all the digital marketplaces. We expanded our distribution all over Chile and internationally and participated in major events like the Adventure Travel World Summit and the International Marine Protected Areas Congress. In 2012, we launched the first Patagonia Photo Contest that over the years has attracted breathtaking images and admirers worldwide. We have organized special events like an outdoor environmental film festival and the A Sustainable Future for Patagonia conference.
Ten years later, as Patagon Journal celebrates a decade of publications, the world we created this magazine for has changed. For better or worse, we believe we have already fulfilled part of our longstanding mission: help build a greater appreciation of Patagonia. HidroAysen is no more. Douglas Tompkins, the visionary conservation philanthropist, died in December 2015 but in 2017, as part of his legacy, five new national parks encompassing more than 10 million acres were added to the park system in Chilean Patagonia. When we first started the magazine, there were virtually no other environmental media like us in Chile or the region. Today, a plethora of internet and Instagram media businesses publish content very much like Patagon Journal while a new generation of ecologically minded young people have transformed the political landscape so much so that they have put a 36-year-old former student activist in Chile’s La Moneda presidential palace who vows to have the first “ecological government.”
It’s a new era. Still, as we outline in the first article of Issue 25 ("An Environmental Agenda for Patagonia"), there remain major challenges for the other big part of our mission: the environmental protection of Patagonia and the world’s last wild places. More broadly, a worsening extinction and climate crisis threatens the future of the entire planet. Patagon Journal intends to help lead the way in these uncertain times. We believe there is space for a magazine like ours that values high quality journalism. In an increasingly digital world where its often difficult to discern fact from fiction, people from bots, authentic journalism from paid publicity, credible media outlets like Patagon Journal that are fact-based and adhere to established journalistic standards are needed more than ever. But to make all that possible, we need your support as a subscriber, member, or patron.
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