The launch of Free Enterprise
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2014
Today marks the birth of a brand new publication that’s been 117 years in the making.
That’s quite a mix of history and immediacy, and it’s what makes the Free Enterprise such a unique newspaper.
Since 1898, the Eagle Valley Enterprise has covered the events and people of the Eagle/Gypsum area. It is the oldest, still operating, business in Eagle County. That’s a tradition we are proud of.
But today’s newspaper business is far different than it was 100 years ago. Actually, it is very different than it was 10 years ago. The only way the Eagle Valley Enterprise can survive in today’s information age was to evolve and the Free Enterprise represents that evolution.
As a legal publication, the Eagle Valley Enterprise must comply with certain standards, one of which precluded free distribution. But the lessons learned by our sister newspaper — the Vail Daily — taught us that a vibrant, free newspaper fills a niche in our communities. As a result, we decided to take what was best about the Eagle Valley Enterprise and transform it into a new, free product — the Free Enterprise.
A few months ago, someone told me the Eagle Valley Enterprise is a great newspaper and that it was a shame no one was reading it. That, in a nutshell, is why we had to change things.
I am thrilled to be at the helm as the Enterprise takes this new step and I want to let our readers in on a personal secret. It starts when I arrived at the Eagle Valley Enterprise office back in November of 1984 with a freshly minted journalism diploma. There’s an archive photo of me somewhere looking fairly ridiculous, clad in an ‘80s-era suit accessorized with a string of pearls. I thought I would stay at this paper for a year or two before I moved on to bigger and better things.
Then one year turned into five and then 10 years. During my first stint at the newspaper, I was on the staff for 13 years. I left to work as a correspondent for the Vail Daily and as a full-time mom. After trying my hand at some other jobs, I returned to the Enterprise in January 2008 and I became editor of this paper in March 2009. I like to tell people it took me 24 years to get back to where I started.
The reason for sharing that 19-year history is so I can say this — I love this newspaper. I love telling this valley’s stories and following its news. Working for the Enterprise has made me the person I am and I’m profoundly grateful I have been able to earn my living this way. So as I watched newspapers around the country struggle and even cease publication, I worried that I might make my own mark on Eagle County history by being the final editor of the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
The advent of the Free Enterprise means we aren’t backing away from this paper. Instead we are dedicating more resources and efforts to make it better. In the weeks ahead, we will refine and expand what we cover. We envision a newspaper that is more about people and less about process. We want your letters, your news items and your photos to become part of the mix. We have a great opportunity to create a vibrant, fun publication that addresses the needs and desires of our community. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com or call me at 970-328-6656 Ext. 4.
Hopefully today marks the first step in the Enterprise’s next 117 years. Welcome to the world of Free Enterprise. Let’s see what we can build together.