At Western Wire, we believe in markets and the marketplace of ideas. We also know the newsrooms of the West are stretched thin, and when reporters and editors are overworked, the marketplace of ideas suffers. The loudest and most inflammatory claims usually get the most attention. Key facts are overlooked. Voices of reason are minimized or ignored altogether.
You can see this trend in the media’s coverage of key industries across the West, especially the energy and natural resources sectors. Support for these industries, and the economic opportunity they make possible, runs deep throughout western communities. But those voices don’t get the same attention as the well-organized minority of opposition groups. So we decided to do something about it.
Established in 2017, Western Wire is the go-to source for news, commentary and analysis on pro-growth, pro-development policies across the West. We cover the news and viewpoints frequently overlooked when regulations and legislation are debated in Washington, D.C. and across the region. We believe when more facts and more voices are brought into these debates, policymakers can make better-informed decisions, with lasting and positive impacts for the families and communities of the West.
Western Wire is a project of Western Energy Alliance, a non-profit regional oil and natural gas association based in Denver, Colo., and active across 13 states. The Alliance works closely with stakeholders in state and local government; academia; ranching; other industries; think tanks; and sportsmen’s, civic, business, issue advocacy and other groups. These allies share an interest in a vibrant western economy with robust job creation.
Western Wire Staff
Michael Sandoval, Managing Editor
Michael has worked on public policy, investigative reporting, and energy issues in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For the past 10 years, Michael has provided investigative research, original news content, and strategic communications in both traditional and emerging social media platforms for many outlets and campaigns in Colorado. Most recently, he served as senior energy policy analyst and investigative reporter at the Independence Institute, a Denver-based free market think tank, focusing on public policy research and analysis and government affairs on a wide range of federal and state regulatory issues, with particular attention on Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West.
A Colorado native, Michael earned a B.A. in history from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.S. in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Aaron Johnson, Editor
Aaron has spent more than 15 years in government and the private sector as a communications and policy professional. After eight years working in legislative policy and communications on Capitol Hill, Aaron joined the private sector working in the defense and consumer electronics industries. He currently serves as the Vice President of Public Affairs for Western Energy Alliance in Denver.
Born and raised in Colorado, Aaron earned an economics degree from the University of Colorado and an MBA from George Mason University. In addition to managing the Alliance’s media relations, social media and web platforms, Aaron is also the founder of the group’s Source Rock blog.
Matt Dempsey, Opinion Editor
Matt Dempsey is a veteran of Colorado and national politics. He has spent most of his career focused on energy and environmental policy. A Colorado native, Matt grew up in a mining family. He studied political science and history at the University of Colorado, and after working in state politics, he moved to Washington to serve on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and in the personal office of U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
As a communications director for the committee and for Sen. Inhofe, Matt built an award-winning online communications presence – using both traditional and emerging media platforms – on environment, energy, transportation and defense issues. Since 2013, Matt has worked as a consultant to pro-energy groups, including Energy In Depth, the Center for Regulatory Solutions and Divestment Facts. In 2016, after more than a decade in Washington, D.C., Matt and his family returned to Colorado, where he is now based.
Elena Connolly, Staff Writer
Elena is a Denver-based writer and consultant. She previously worked in New York and Washington, DC first in news media and later in the energy sector.
After graduating from the University of Maryland with a double major in broadcast journalism and political science, Elena got her start at CNBC working at their global headquarters as a producer on the assignment desk.
She later moved on to CNN, where she worked as an associate producer for one of the network’s primetime shows—helping produce segments and pieces and coordinate coverage.
In 2015, Elena moved down to Washington, DC to work at a consulting firm dealing with public affairs and energy issues.