Reporting from the Fringes with James Pogue


When James Pogue dropped out of college, he had no plan. Fueled by a passion for adventure and a desire to connect more deeply with the environment around him, James spent the next several years traveling around the US by hitch-hiking and hopping freight trains, eventually taking off to the Sahara to work in resource exploration.

During his time in the Sahara, James discovered his talent for writing about the unique events and people that he encountered while living on society’s fringes. Recognizing the potential for writing to provide him access to and funding for even more off-the-beaten-path destinations, James merged his two interests.

James’ career as a writer has taken him all over the world, often to dangerous and volatile places. His interest in living at fringes and finding adventures in places where systems break down has led to him becoming embedded in the world of dissident Irish Republican Army groups and South African militias. He has reported on the Wagner Mercenary Group and the jihadist insurgency in West Africa, as well as on militias and cowboys in the American west. With a thoughtful and compassionate voice, he recounts some of the most contentious events in recent history, offering a distinct perspective that can only come from personal experience.

James’ travels have nurtured his deep appreciation for the natural world. Inspired by this devotion, he turned his attention to the wildfires in Northern California. Through training as a wildland firefighter and immersing himself with prison crews battling blazes, James gained firsthand experience. He further solidified his commitment to environmentalism by undertaking three large-scale post-fire landscape restoration projects, aiming to heal the scars left by devastating wildfires in Idaho.

James will share his experience of turning a passion for adventure into a full-time career. He will delve into the work and lifestyle of a long-form reporter, providing insight into what it’s like to report from dangerous environments and the challenges and rewards that come with it.

James Pogue is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, and a writer for Vanity Fair and the New York Times. He writes about how characters and events at the fringes shape our society and world. He embeds frequently with militias and paramilitary groups around the world, from Ireland to Central Africa to Northern California. He also writes frequently about environmental issues and the natural history of the American West. He is the author of Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West, a first-hand account of being embedded with Ammon Bundy during the 2016 standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He is the recipient of a 2022 Alicia Patterson Fellowship and his work has twice received supporting grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He lives in Mt. Washington, where he works on native plant and fish restoration.

This program was organized by Hadrian Belove.