For this week’s Meet the Media, get to know John D’Onofrio, publisher and editor of Adventures NW Magazine.
- How did you find yourself as the publisher/editor of the Adventures NW Magazine?
Like so much of my life, one thing led to another. I’ve been a writer and photographer basically my whole life, since I was a kid. Although my wife and I owned a technology company for almost 20 years, I did freelance writing and photography on the side, just for fun. Then in 2008, we changed our lives fundamentally, bowing to the obvious truth that time was more valuable than money. We both decided to follow our hearts.
I’d been approached by the founders and publishers of Adventures NW several times. They wanted to get out of the publishing business. I’d written many stories for them. I’d run a fairly large business. They had me pegged as the best guy to run the magazine. I hesitated for a year or two, reluctant to commit myself to being a business owner again. But they were right. I bought the magazine in 2012. It’s without a doubt the greatest job in the western world. Incidentally, my wife now owns a yoga studio in Bellingham. Lesson learned: Following your heart is the way to go. Passion—besides filling your days with joy—is a distinct competitive advantage. Doing what you love makes all the difference!
2. Which of your stories are you most proud of?
Among stories that I’ve written, I’m proudest of a piece that I did about ten years ago entitled The Zen of Walking on the psychology and emotional aspects of wilderness travel, particularly the sense of transcending self-imposed limitations and exploring the hard-to-elucidate experience of being part of something bigger than yourself.
Among stories that I’ve edited, I’m proudest of a piece written by Bob Kandiko for Adventures NW called The Weight of Time, a deeply personal story about a near-death experience on Denali and the impact of the experience over the course of a lifetime.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
As someone who has been madly in love with both writing and photography my whole life, I find the experience of combining them in the course of layout to be something like ecstatic joy. For me, this is always a magical manifestation of the principle of gestalt, as the combined power of carefully-curated words and images is so clearly greater than the sum of the parts.
4. What is your interview style?
For some situations I like conversational interviews, wherein the exchange is free to wander. These are best recorded using a digital voice recorder. In other cases, where I’m looking for specific points, opinions or information, e-mail works well. It gives the interviewee an opportunity to ponder the question and formulate a thoughtful answer and also ensures accuracy.
5. What do you look for in a story?
I look for stories that inspire. With Adventures NW my mission is to offer up connectivity—in a deep sense—between our readers and the natural world. So I want stories that enable readers to imagine themselves having the adventure or experience that they are reading about. This leads to actually getting out and interacting with the natural world. When this happens, that deep connection becomes possible. This sense of connection tends to be transformative, helping people find balance and meaning in a world that grows ever more over-stimulated and fractured. They might evolve, develop compassion and tend to become advocates for nature. We surely need advocates for nature more than ever!
6. What is your day like at your job?
I can’t wait to get to work in the morning. In addition to my work with Adventures NW, I also have a busy schedule around my photographic work – editing images, preparing exhibitions, planning workshops, etc. I’ve also been working with Native American Flute Master Gary Stroutsos on a project called Cascadia Dreams, a multimedia presentation combining video, still photography, time-lapse segments, electronic music, percussion and flute music. This is hopefully headed for PBS. I’m also writing a new book for a Canadian publisher and working with an amazing graphics designer named Peter Frazier on a series of labeled panoramic images of iconic Pacific Northwest mountain peaks. So every day is a different mix of creative pleasures. I have to force myself to stop and eat lunch.
7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I really respect the journalists who continue to speak truth to power in this country. People like Nicholas Kristof, Maureen Dowd, David Von Drehle, Tim Egan. I respect David Brooks for his championing of civility. In the realm of so-called “nature writing”, I’m humbled by the talents of people like Robert Michael Pyle and Lawrence Millman, both of whom I’ve been fortunate enough to feature in Adventures NW. I miss Edward Abbey a lot!
8. What is your favorite news outlet?
In this time of strategically-planned confusion and deliberate obfuscation, I look to the stalwarts of the journalistic tradition—The NY Times, The Washington Post, etc.—more than ever. With what’s going on in terms of mis- and dis-information, their importance and value cannot be overstated.
9. Fill in the blank:
- If I am not working, I am…exploring. I spend a lot of time in the wilderness—hiking, paddling and making photographs. I also lead photo workshops in the North Cascades, Alaska, American Southwest, Egypt, Southeast Asia and Morocco.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…the Dalai Lama. I was fortunate enough to attend a series of talks by his holiness some years ago, a transformative experience.
- My favorite thing about the Pacific Northwest is…being surrounded by inspiring beauty every morning when I wake up!
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
Old B-Movies. I love old monster and sci-fi movies – the cheesier, the better…
Check out last week’s Meet the Media where we spotlighted Alvaro Guillen, publisher of La Raza NW.
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