RANGE: A WINNING WESTERN
Over the last three decades, RANGE magazine and its editor/publisher, C.J. (Caroline Joy) Hadley, have received more than 100 awards for excellence on both the national and state levels. Not bad for an underfunded and overworked operation devoted to producers who feed and clothe Americans.
In addition to creating 122 issues, Hadley has produced 19 hardback books since 2003. Her focus is on ranchers and subjects include cowboys, sheepherders, photography, humor, art, poetry and history with a big mix of hardworking and charismatic people.
RANGE magazine received top honors for its 10th book (the previous nine were not entered in any contests). “Brushstrokes & Balladeers: Painters and poets of the American West” won the prize for Best Poetry Book of the Year in 2014 from the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Foundation in Oklahoma City—formerly called The Cowboy Hall of Fame. The honor came with a bronze statuette called “The Cowboy” by Harold T. Holden, aka H.
The following eight books all earned prizes (seven gold and one bronze in eight years) thanks to the Will Rogers Medallion Awards based in Fort Worth, Texas. The WRMA honors books that represent an “Outstanding Achievement in the publishing of Western Media.” Each of those books took home an additional medal for production and printing values.
Winning RANGE books include “The M Bar,” “Reflections of the West,” “Cowboys & Critters,” “The Good, the Bad & the Bovine,” “The Magnificent American West” (featuring Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain), “Tales from Out There” and “Quinlan & Jones.” The latest honored by WRMA was “Nippers and Oldies: The Long Trail Home,” another hardback filled with 144 pages of heartfelt stories and extraordinary photos that are a reminder of what America was and could still be. Ages of the people covered were from 10 days to 103. A second award recognized the book’s remarkable production value. In other words, it’s a beauty. Each of the previous seven RANGE books also received the production nod from judges. The ceremony was October 29, 2022, in Fort Worth’s Stockyards.
RANGE’s latest book, “Face to Face with the American West,” will be ready for the coffee table in December. It’s all there. The freshness of youth and the seasoned wisdom of years on the land are all in the faces of the West. The 112-page hardback showcases the works of 39 of the best photographers in America in rich black and white.
When the Nevada Press Association (NPA) recognized journalistic excellence in 2016, it conveyed a First-Place award for RANGE in the Special Projects category, which is reserved for outside endeavors, such as books and calendars. The nominees are judged on originality, relevance to readership and quality of content. Judges that year chose “Reflections of the West: Cowboy Painters and Poets,” the critically acclaimed sequel to the Wrangler-winning “Brushstrokes & Balladeers,” that also paid tribute to painters and poets of the American West. “Reflections” also received the coveted Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Cowboy Poetry.
Together the books are a walk through the emotion-filled world of cowboy poetry and western art—paying tribute along the way to a culture where traditions have changed little in close to 200 years. In a hard but simpler world, cowboys trailing herds or visiting at the campfire after a hard day’s work in the high, wide and lonesome would entertain each other with stories, most often set to rhyme, about their workday experiences, and how they felt about living and working in what could be a brutal and hostile environment. Their poetic legacy is sentimental, tough, sad and humorous, but it always offers a perspective on life. Unique insights, tenderness and shocking reality all show up in stories as honest and forthright as the American West.
“These books are not about legend or pretend,” says editor/publisher C.J. Hadley. “Readers will discover images and words about life in the West. Vivid. Real. Painful. Touching. Inspirational.”
During the 2021 WRMA celebration, CJ was presented with the first-ever “Lifetime Achievement Award,” which recognizes authors, publishers and illustrators who have made significant contributions to Western Literature and Media throughout their careers. To be eligible, “recipients must have received at least one Will Rogers Medallion in three different years; demonstrated a consistently high level of excellence in publications and/or media; and diligently combined entertainment with an understanding of the history, traditions and values of the American West. Additionally, recipients must have shown enduring respect for the West’s history, values and traditions as Will Rogers himself demonstrated through written, visual, and recorded media over his lifetime. His career serves as the standard by which all Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are judged for their contributions to the ongoing legacy of the American West.”
The commendation on CJ’s WRMA plaque reads, in part: “In recognition of her exemplary leadership and editorial talents in publishing the consistently high quality of RANGE magazine and its library of outstanding publications, all demonstrating her commitment to furthering the well-being of rural Americans and the survival of their farm-and-ranch way of life while celebrating the beauty and sanctity of the Western landscape and its unique inhabitants, both animal and human, and protecting Americans’ precious Freedoms as gifted to us by the hard work, sacrifices and blood of our forebears.”
Two years earlier, Hadley experienced another first, this time from the Nevada Press Association: “To appreciate her unique and notable role in the history of Nevada journalism, consider the fact that Caroline Joy Hadley, aka CJ, is the first person to be inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame without ever having worked at a newspaper.
On being inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, it was noted that Hadley has been publisher/editor of RANGE magazine, the only publication in the state that strives to document the trials, tribulations, failures, challenges and successes of those who live, love and work to preserve the spirit and heritage of the West. She was born in England and emigrated to North America when she was 17. She began her career in publishing in 1963, in the “Mad Men” environment of New York’s magazine publishing. In 1967 she became managing editor of Car & Driver and was thrilled to drive Mickey Rupp’s go karts in Ohio and the Lunar Rover at Cape Canaveral before it went to the Moon. She left New York in 1972 to become a rodeo photographer.
A three-year stint traveling and writing adventure pieces for national magazines including Sports Illustrated, Saturday Evening Post, Travel & Leisure and Air Canada ended with a 1975 assignment for Sports Illustrated riding a camel 300 miles across Australia’s Simpson Desert. In 14 days, the safari riders only found water three times. Her editor demanded an intro to the story to show she was an adventuress, racing snowmobiles, riding fast motorbikes, and her biggest personal flop as a boat puller in the Northwest Trollers Association: “I thought I was a tuna fisherman,” she wrote, “until I puked 21 pounds of my own viscera into the Pacific.” After 21 days on board, she was dropped off on the docks of Sausalito, dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition. Within days she hitchhiked to the driest state in the union, Nevada, and decided she was finally home.
In 1985, Hadley freelanced for several publications and worked as editor of the University of Nevada, Reno’s alumni magazine, Silver & Blue. It was thanks to UNR, its equipment and that part-time job that she could launch RANGE magazine, guided by five ranchers and soil scientists, in 1991.
In the eight years RANGE has participated in the Nevada Press Association’s Better Newspaper and Magazine Contest it has been recognized with more than 120 awards, despite having no fulltime editorial staff. In one of those competitions a judge remarked: “Never heard of RANGE magazine before but they take wide swings at big, fascinating, important subjects with thorough investigation, put-me-there drama and unflinching portrayal of the facts, regardless of politics, personal beliefs or religion. This is the kind of reporting that makes us important and relevant in an age when everything else is becoming more like a sound bite.”
At the NPA conference in September 2022, RANGE brought home an additional 10 awards, for which the publication was praised for writing, photography and social media entries. (These can be found via rangemagazine.com and rangefire.us.) Included in the journalism awards from NPA, are seven “Freedom of the Press,” which recognize the contributions RANGE makes to the important producers who protect our land and feed Americans.