Garret Woodward, in Plattsburgh, holding a copy of the Backwoods Bugler.
PLATTSBURGH — There’s something about the North Country Garret Woodward can’t shake.
He left Rouses Point after high school, living in Europe and out west, but he wants to set roots down here.
“If I can survive,” he shrugged, sitting in Koffee Kat in downtown Plattsburgh.
He’s freelance writing to keep his head above water and applying for jobs, struggling alongside his fellow Americans. He’s also putting out a magazine called the Backwoods Bugler, an alternative newspaper that features odd and wonderful stories of the people and places in the North Country instead of the hard-news statistical dread commonly found in newspapers.
Woodward wants to break down the fourth wall and speak directly to his audience, to include them in the situation.
As a student, he never wrote or read more than he was assigned and was studying broadcast journalism at Quinnipiac University when he read “On the Road.”
Suddenly, he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life and altered his major to include print journalism.
Woodward went to college when journalism was more than a ghost of itself, though he said it is not dying, but assimilating.
He has spent the past six years covering music events across the country and recently released a novella pieced together from journals he produced in Mormon country in Idaho in 2008.
“I love to write and meet strangers.”
Woodward once hung out with a horseshoe maker who spoke as melted steel fell onto his hands.
Another time, he was up at five in the morning to watch an endangered bird released into the wild.
“Everyone has a different story, and journalism has given me a vehicle to share those stories.”
But as he explored journalism careers he noticed editors wanted to cut up and shorten his stories.
At a recent job interview in Maine for a general assignment position, he was told that his style of writing, while good, wouldn’t fit in the newspaper.
On the way back, Woodward decided he’d do his own thing.
“Every article is your baby, and when you have cuts because of space, it’s like watching your kid get punched in the face,” he said. “If it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t put it in there in the first place.”
Woodward wants to write stories that retain their freshness a year later. He likes reading stories the reporter is involved in, saying it draws readers in more.
And he finds that often, flawed responses make a story more interesting.
The first issue of the “Backwoods Bugler,” which is available at Koffee Kat and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/BackwoodsBugler, features a bus adventure and interview with the band Lucid. It also includes a meal at a local diner that includes a mouthy owner, a gourmet club meeting in Rouses Point and more.
The next issue, planned for summer, is already working itself out in his head.
“It won’t be easy, but I am willing to put in the grind,” Woodward said.
“Backwoods Bugler” is seasonal, but Woodward would like to eventually make it monthly.
The 27-year-old is going to keep it a one man band for now, but is looking for advertisers, sponsors and donations. Anyone with such an interest can reach him at Garret.Woodward@Yahoo.com.
Woodward isn’t trying to compete with local news publications, which he respects, but wants to provide an alternative platform for the many wonderful and weird things in the area that fascinate him.
“I want people to feel good after reading this paper,” he said. “I want people to read about the good things in the area. There are some interesting and talented people here who are getting things done, and I want to be around and part of that.”