All at once looking back and ahead |

All at once looking back and ahead

Don Rogers

2004’s in the books, done, history. On balance it was a good, interesting, at times even exciting year here. And tragic. The untimely deaths of young people this fall and early winter were especially hard to absorb.The year was strange, too. Voters here belied our reputation as the most conservative of the Colorado ski towns by going pretty much all Democratic in the voting booth. And Kobe finally left town, I imagine for good, no matter how highly he prizes our knee surgeons. The feeling here is definitely mutual. All we ask of the celebrities who visit is that they manage to behave. The paper, my baby, had a good year, too – as a business, a community partner and also in my realm, the newsroom.The Kobe case closed for us as it started, with scoops that left the national media uttering our name on broadcasts and in print. More importantly, we avoided making any large mistakes in coverage while holding to an assertive approach sticking to primary sources and at least our sense of relevancy, a most squishy concept. Holding to the same tact cost us while we watched the Front Range metropolitan papers report second-hand rumors as fact last summer about Vail Resorts being sold. We know they were second hand because we had the same sources, but we applied the lessons of Kobe. Oh yeah, and Journalism 101, too. It just so happened that our big brethren were wrong. Again. But we seemed to take the hit on the image front. Even though we were correct in our discipline.I don’t know that journalism has slipped over time, but between the coverage of Vail Resorts’s sale that wasn’t and Kobe Bryant, it’s plain that truth was trumped by some other value. The Big Media has, shall we say, some issues. The Daily’s newsroom shined brightest this year in its election coverage. This is whole team stuff, not just one or two reporters on a story. The planning and execution of the plan was by far the best I’ve seen here. Yeah I was proud on election night, for the first time having nothing pressing to do because everything – everything! – was coming together just fine. The newsroom’s biggest accomplishment was pedestrian stuff, though. You may or may not have noticed that the paper’s rate of basic errors has dropped dramatically, but I sure have. The copy desk quietly shined this year.Don’t worry. I’m not on my way to declaring we’ve arrived in some sense. Only improved. There’s still a steep mountain for the Daily to climb. Our work is uneven from day to day. We still fumble plenty.We remain inconsistent with information that is submitted to us – briefs, calendars and Town Talk remain Achilles’ heels. Same with getting back promptly to at least some callers. Sure, the tide can at times seem overwhelming, a great problem on one level because it shows interest is high. But I’m sure we have the brain power needed to improve our systems and habits dealing with this part of our service.Funny how the beginning of the new year brings all this into focus. Looking back and resolving to do better. 2005 is brand new; we’re doing well now to remember to drop the “04” in our checkbooks and letterhead, those who still write letters anyway.I’m sure it’s much the same with you, this evaluation of past and future. I hope it’s the same for our politicians, those elected leaders to whom we’ve entrusted our public institutions. As for Kobe, well, that distinct improvement has already arrived. He’s gone, with 2004.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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