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Don Rogers: Critics do make Vail Daily editors think

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

‘Tis the season lately for outraged criticism of our work. A picture of a skier dangling from a chairlift here, a father angry at a Mountain Mischief brief that he reads as mocking his daughter there.

For the editors, a key question is where does being sensitive to possibly embarrassment bleed over to pulling punches to the point you are not doing your job for the public you are supposed to serve? It’s a serious question.

The public’s expectations won’t help. The public is all over the board, as we’ve seen from the valley and worldwide reaction to the photograph of the skier in Blue Sky Basin a couple of Saturdays ago.



Sure, personally I feel for the skier. But there are a lot worse, more embarrassing things in life than being an unidentified person who suffered no injury, save perhaps pride.

I may not be the norm, but let’s put it this way: I’d have met Leno in person by now and you would know step by step how I came to find myself hanging upside down, bare and scared for my life for seven or so long minutes. There’s no real shame in an accident. Maybe some further training about lowering seats and how many steps become too far from that magic red button for the lifties. But the skier did nothing wrong, and has nothing to be ashamed about.



I feel differently about the brief that almost no one noticed and none commented upon while the dangling skier attracted attention from around the world.

This brief was about one young woman hitting another young woman in a tiff over a guy, and being arrested. It’s the sort of news that has made the Mountain Mischief column are part of the paper for a couple of decades.

Many community papers have similar features, and they tend to have a humorous tone. The people in the stories usually are anonymous. It’s the anecdote, not the identity, that a certain part of the readership is interested in.



But the girl who was hit found nothing funny about a tongue-in-cheek suggestion in the brief that texting an apology to the other girl might have avoided the fight that left her hurt and the other girl arrested.

The victim’s father was infuriated. I can imagine myself in his place, too, as the father of a daughter who is nearly a legal adult. I’d feel fairly homicidal if I thought she was being insulted in the paper atop injury. And I wouldn’t particularly care that no one who didn’t already know the story would know who she was or be remotely interested in her identity.

I tend to lack much sympathy for perpetrators, but I sure don’t want the victims to feel worse.

This one I’d take back and rewrite if I could. Failing that, this being a daily paper, it’s a learning opportunity for me, the writer, his supervising editor.

Much like the lifties no doubt have had some coaching in the wake of the chairlift incident with a happy ending, we’ll learn to be more appropriately sensitive in the wake of the brief.

I’m sorry if the young lady felt pain beyond her part in the drama that brought the police in. We coulda shoulda worked how we told the story a little more. It’s accurate to the police report, but the tone didn’t work, at least not for me, the victim, her father.

The other, well, I feel for the skier, too. But his situation was straightforward. Is a guy hanging upside down from a chairlift news? Let’s put it this way: We should all very much hope so. I’d hate to think that’s a common occurrence and therefore too ho hum to qualify.

On the plus side, this episode has provided Vail Mountain with about a million dollars’ worth of marketing in major media.

After perhaps a laugh and imagining themselves in that position, viewers were left with the lasting image of “Hey, Vail’s got snow.”

I’m not holding my breath for the royalties or thank you note.

Not for personal gain

Michael Cacioppo would like the community to know that he has never personally benefited from any lawsuit he has filed against a public entity. It’s a point of principle with him.

Commenters on the Web site, who of course express opinions ranging from rational to crazy town, and with very healthy helpings of complete fiction, include some who seem to think Cacioppo filed litigation to make money.

Cacioppo, though, is all about what he sees as the people’s business, not his own profit. So he wanted to set that record straight.

His earnest aim is to be a hero for the public, to agitate if you will, for the good. You don’t have to like him, or agree with his means, to appreciate the quest.

History, now

Eagle County officials are concerned that an editorial last week suggested county was going to spend $36,500 on a new logo and slogan when they already have paid the amount. They will decide whether to spend a nominal amount more on trademarking their new logo and slogan, if they decide to indeed change what they have now.

The county’s PR chief, Kris Friel, asked that we note that the study leading to the slogan and all was commissioned in 2007 and paid for in 2008.

In other words, what I see as pure foolishness happened in the past, before the teflon came off Eagle County’s economy and the county was a mite looser with spending.

Don Rogers is the editor and associate publisher of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 748-2920 or drogers@vaildaily.com. He welcomes your comments.


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