By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
After 3 1/2 years of Zoom and working remotely, Cowboy State Daily, Wyoming’s largest news operation, opened its brick-and-mortar office at a grand opening on Saturday.
Dubbed the “Barn Raisin’,” staff at the 24/7 digital news organization was joined by more than 150 supporters at the office, which is located in a famed historic barn only a few minutes walking distance from the state Capitol building in Cheyenne.
Executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily Jimmy Orr welcomed the guests at the renovated office space that once stalled Wyoming’s most famous horse Steamboat, which can be seen on every Wyoming license plate and, along with a bronc rider, is the official state logo.
Orr thanked the majority owner of the organization, Wayne Hughes, who bought the assets of Cowboy State Daily in February 2022.
“Wayne has made it possible for us to produce the high-quality, non-biased journalism that Wyoming citizens deserve,” Orr said. “Not only can we pay our reporters well, but we are expanding so we can cover the most important industries and topics that affect all of Wyoming.”
Orr mentioned that the 3 1/2-year-old news organization now has dedicated reporters covering state government and politics, energy, outdoors, business and tourism, features, education and will be expanding to include breaking news, crime and courts, and agriculture and food.
Reporters and columnists are based in Cheyenne, Riverton, Cody, Casper, Laramie, Pinedale, Lander and Gillette with plans to expand.
“The commonality is, everyone is from Wyoming,” Orr said. “Everyone lives here in Wyoming. Our mission is to hire people who live here and love it here.”
Enjoy The Startup
Hughes, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, told staff members to especially enjoy this stage of the business cycle.
“We’re in a space now where you are going to look back at this and think, ‘that was a really good time,'” Hughes said. “This is the most fun part of a new business. Enjoy it.”
Hughes emphasized his commitment to quality, non-biased journalism.
“We pitch it straight down the middle, we don’t put our thumb on the scale. Keep up the outstanding work that you do,” Hughes said to the staff.
A Tribute to Jim Angell
The first person brought on to the Cowboy State Daily staff by Orr and co-founder Annaliese Weiderspahn in January 2019 was Jim Angell, who had just retired as executive director of the Wyoming Press Association.
“Our thought was if we were able to get Jim Angell to join us, we stood a chance,” Orr said. “He was the foundation.”
Angell was hired as the managing editor for Cowboy State Daily, and was the first person Orr said he spoke with every morning for two and a half years.
“Jim was my co-pilot,” said Orr. “I talked to him more than 20 times a day, every day.”
Angell was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July and passed away shortly thereafter, leaving a hole in the heart of Cowboy State Daily.
“When Jim passed a month and a half ago, it was Ellen (Fike, former general assignment reporter) who said right away, ‘let’s name the barn in honor of Jim,’” said Orr.
At the event Saturday, Jim’s widow, Mary, was there to witness the official naming of Cowboy State Daily’s new office the “Jim Angell Media Center.”
Thanks to Don Day
Although the weather was fantastic during the event, skies were threatening the entire day. At one point, there was a 100% chance of rain. Wyoming meteorologist Don Day, however, unleashed his voodoo and outside of a light sprinkle, the weather was perfect.
“That’s why we contracted with Don Day,” Orr said. “If you get the guy who can control the weather, you’ve made a smart deal.”
Day, one of the most respected meteorologists in the country, provides in-depth daily weather forecasts on Cowboy State Daily.