By Jim Stanford on April 24, 2014
The bombshell news came on the bottom of page two.
Angus M. Thuermer Jr., the dean of Jackson Hole journalism, is resigning as editor of the News&Guide, the paper reported yesterday.
Thuermer, 61, will become statewide natural resources correspondent for the online news outlet WyoFile. His last day at the paper is May 21.
Thuermer started in the pressroom at the Jackson Hole News in 1978 and worked his way up to editor. He reputedly kidnapped publisher Mike Sellett’s dog and held it ransom for a newsroom job.
Along with Sellett, Thuermer presided over the News as it became one of the top small weeklies in the country. He wrote the bulk of environmental news during the 1990s, covering stories like the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, recovery of grizzly bears and slaughter of bison outside the world’s first national park.
The hard-nosed newsman doggedly pursued his stories, taking on developers, despoilers of natural resources and politicians who sought to conduct public business in secret. He told riveting tales of grizzly maulings, avalanches and rescues of climbers in Grand Teton National Park.
Along the way he mentored a generation of Jackson Hole journalists. Stroking his beard, he would ask probing questions of reporters upon reading a first draft, showing them the types of questions they should ask of their subjects. He kept a copy of Wyoming’s open meetings law in his top desk drawer and never hesitated to pull it out and lecture a young reporter.
Following the merger of the News with the Jackson Hole Guide in late 2002, Thuermer served as co-editor with Tom Dewell. After the death of co-publisher Elizabeth McCabe, Sellett sold the paper to Kevin and Shelley Olson in 2012.
Thuermer cited a desire to focus on journalism, rather than administrative duties, as the motivation behind the change. WyoFile is a nonprofit news service funded by grants from a number of prominent foundations and former journalists; the website offers in-depth coverage and analysis of issues.
Thuermer has embraced online publishing about as slowly as he did the transition from leather telemark boots and hard-tail mountain bikes. Now he joins the ranks of bloggers, while swooshing downhill on alpine touring gear and riding full suspension.
His departure from the paper sent shockwaves through Jackson’s media community, but many colleagues already are looking forward to seeing Angus Unmuzzled, taking on coal companies, oil and gas drillers, Gov. Matt Mead and Sen. John Barrasso, among others.
With him goes much of the paper’s institutional memory. Rich Anderson, a veteran reporter and editor, will take over, at least in the interim.
Thuermer leaves behind a rich account of decades of Jackson Hole history, as well as a prolific collection of photos of canoeing across Green River Lakes and Tim Young skiing powder in the Teton backcountry.
Here’s to seeing similarly sharp images and inspiring stories from places like the Big Horns and Snowy Range in the years to come.
(Portrait by Price Chambers; ski photo by Frederick Reimers)