Embracing Free Enterprise
Ryan Summerlin November 26, 2013
With publication of this week’s edition, the Eagle Valley Enterprise is entering its 117th year of operation.
That makes us the oldest business in this county. Think about it, when the Enterprise was born Eagle wasn’t even a town yet. It was just a little community serving the gold miners seeking their fortunes up at Fulford and the farmers and ranchers of the Brush Creek Valley.
At some point during its scrappy early years, the Enterprise won the bid to become Eagle County’s legal newspaper. That designation has characterized the newspaper for the majority of its existence up to this very day. It’s why you will find all those Public Trustee Sale, Sheriff’s Sale and Foreclosure Notices populating the back page of the newspaper.
Through the years, the Enterprise has reported the local impact of everything from Pearl Harbor to the Kennedy Assassination to 9/11. But it has always, primarily, reported about local people and events.
Some big changes are under way for the Enterprise. But what won’t change is that local news theme. In fact, we are making changes to strengthen that focus.
It’s no secret that the newspaper business is struggling nationwide. In this era when everyone is plugged in and turned on, it’s pretty tough for a print medium to be a news breaker. As newspapers nationwide have retrenched to discover how to meet the needs of today’s readers, our sister publication — the Vail Daily — has come up with a winning formula. The idea is pretty basic — focus on your community. Find out what your readers want and aggressively provide it. Invite them to be part of the newspaper by providing photos and stories. Back up your print edition with a strong website.
And, most importantly, provide a free product. As anyone in this valley knows, stacks of free Vail Daily newspapers can be found at every coffee shop and business in the county. There are free papers available in racks located just about any place where people congregate. I pick mine up at the rack in front of Red Canyon High School. If that one is empty by the time I get to it, I walk across Broadway and pick up a paper from the rack at Eagle Town Hall.
But the Eagle Valley Enterprise is not a free newspaper and because of the conditions we must fulfill as the legal newspaper, we cannot be. The Enterprise costs 25 cents a copy and we like to think it is a bargain at that price. But that’s not the point. The point is that in an environment where free newspapers are the norm, charging for your publication is a losing strategy.
Continuing as the county’s legal newspaper is important for the Eagle Valley Enterprise. Increasing readership and impact for the residents of western Eagle County is equally important. Unfortunately, one publication can’t do both.
The Eagle Valley Enterprise will continue as the legal publication with news items from the past week. But next week a new publication will be born.
It is called the Free Enterprise. As the name suggests, it will be a free weekly publication that includes popular content of the Eagle Valley Enterprise. It will focus on Eagle and Gypsum features and faces and happenings and history of western Eagle County. We will expand our coverage to include Glenwood Springs shopping and entertainment. Like the Vail Daily, you will be able to find it at locations throughout the valley.
As we launch our new publication, we are not abandoning our history. Rather we are committing ourselves to a plan that will help the Enterprise thrive in a new digital era. We are excited about this opportunity and we invite you all to be part of what we create. Send us your story ideas, your photos and your comments. I can be contacted at email@example.com or by phone at 970-328-6656 Ext. 4
Our 117th year is going to be an exciting one. Let’s see what we accomplish together. Isn’t that always the goal of Free Enterprise?