Grinning and bearing it
In three words, here’s why the Vail Town Council needs to find a way to fund the Vail Chamber and Business Association at its June 3 meeting: “Turn it Up!”While that program, derisively known as “Smile School,” is but one of many things the Vail-only chamber does to keep the valley’s economic engine humming (see Kaye Ferry’s weekly soap box in the Vail Daily for the rest of the list), it’s been the most important.A quick anecdote: I’m riding the Vista Bahn late last ski season, doing some research for a story, when a guy from Texas strikes up a conversation. Being a surly local, I merely grunted at him at first, but then he caught my interest.”Y’all here in Vail sure are friendlier than in Telluride,” he proclaimed.”Friendlier than Telluride,” I thought, apparently out-loud. “That’s impossible.” They once had a council member named Rasta Stevie. It may be organically, and/or chemically, induced, but T-riders have always seemed pretty friendly to me.”Nope,” said the Texan. “Surlier than a passel of polecats.” Whatever the hell those are.So maybe Smile School works, I start thinking. Maybe Kaye’s merry band of pranksters has found a way to get workers to grin foolishly without the use of banned substances.The ski mag surveys all have Vail climbing the customer-service ladder good news given we make people hike three miles in ski boots just to get to the lifts and the VCBA deserves a big hunk of the credit.Sure, there are a lot of other organizations involved, including the valley-wide Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, but the Vail-only VCBA was the key player. Same with the Vail Premier Impressions Program, which released its end-of-season report May 29, showing a 4 percent improvement in Vail’s overall customer service scores over last year and a 7 percent improvement over 2001.Besides, competition is a good thing, and if the VVCTB, chaired by Vail Daily publisher Steve Pope, is the only game in town, it would be like throwing in the towel and allowing one newspaper to monopolize readership and ad revenues. And we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?On the subject of the Daily, I found it interesting that its editor, Don Rogers, had the watermelon-sized cajones to pontificate on the terrible lessons learned from reporter Jayson Blair’s “shortcut to glory” as a plagiarist and fabricator at The New York Times.” those cracks in The New York Times’ faade ought to serve notice of a need to better scrutinize the edifice we call journalism, and perhaps make repairs where the structure has weakened. I suspect we’d find some chinks,” Rogers sagely wrote Monday, May 26.Yeah, Don, starting with your own newsroom.Just a couple of years ago, Rogers wrote a column that painted his entire staff as plagiarists, admitting the Daily had a budding Jayson Blair on board but failing to name the miscreant let alone fire him.Had I worked there at the time, I would have demanded a public inquiry, the naming of the plagiarist and a full accounting of his misdeeds, ala The New York Times.Instead, Rogers wrote it off as a momentary “breakdown in judgment” even though I can tell you for fact that the plagiarist’s pattern of “breakdowns” dates back nearly a decade.At the time, Rogers promised the plagiarist had been “disciplined,” but in all my journalism ethics classes in college I was told plagiarism was a firing offense. And the Daily’s offender is still there in a prominent position.As our president is fond of saying, “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists,” and as long as Don Rogers continues to harbor a word thief, he is aiding and abetting the enemy of truth and has no credibility on the subject of plagiarism.Speaking of full disclosure, I can’t think of a single good reason for the court file to be sealed and a gag order to be in place in the Kathleen Denson murder case.Too much pre-trial publicity will taint the potential jury pool, a judge claims, but that’s what changes of venue are for, I always thought.Sealing the file and gagging the attorneys just means reporters have to do a lot of speculating and chasing down third-party sources. We’re not going to stop reporting on the case; we’re just going to do it in a vacuum, using less-informed sources.And the residents of the county where the crime was allegedly committed deserve to know the details. In fact, from what I can tell, they seem to know more than the journalists covering the case.Maybe the paper of record in town, with its bevy of lawyers on retainer, can take on the gag order in the name of the public’s right to know.David O. Williams is a longtime Vail Valley journalist who promises he will instantly fire anyone on his “staff” caught plagiarizing.
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