Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Alone, again
Vail CO, Colorado
The Vail Daily has had direct newspaper competition for all but four years of its existence since 1981.
We’ll see how long it is before the next challenger tees up after the Vail Mountaineer closed shop Monday.
That’s the perspective I’m taking.
My personal reaction? Curiously, it’s a mix. The publisher is elated that his operation is the one still standing. We won the war, and I think we did it the right way. The editor, well, he already misses the daily battle.
Having two papers again in town, in the supposed digital age, was cool. Denver lost a giant and our valley gained a guppy at roughly the same time.
I like and admire Jim Pavelich, the guy who started the Vail Daily and then in 2008 started the Mountaineer to take on the paper he sold in 1993.
And I can say I’m twice over thankful to him for the opportunity to live and work here. I credit the Mountaineer for the opportunity to transfer back from a paper in Nevada. And in the gut, returning felt right.
I understand that this is a personality flaw, but while I like J.P., I love for my team to win. No, love is too gentle a word. It’s a need, plain and simple. Burning and unrelenting. A curse.
The Mountaineer, along with the recession to be sure, brought changes to the Daily. The management team turned over completely, some coverage improved, and I like to think our business behaviors got more focused and purposeful. Direct competition has a way of concentrating the mind.
Daily newspapering is a chaotic thing. We ask a lot of everyone, and there’s always way too much we need right now and too few of us to do it. And yet we do. Each day. It gets in the blood like nothing else I’ve ever done.
We made mistakes, but generally we held true in our approach. On the business side that was and is deliver great value at a fair price while remaining economically viable. Not rich, but sustain the operation.
The Mountaineer made a bold stab at developing market share by charging very low at first, then aim to build from there. It’s a logical plan. It just didn’t work this time.
On the news side, we aimed to keep our coverage credible, complete and relevant — a more expensive strategy than they took. Our news folks did very well on this front.
The fundamental lesson I’m taking, though, is that we had weaknesses that opened the door to a competitor.
That means we have room to improve, and who knows how much time to do that before the next rival decides to give us a run.
So no laurel resting over here. We still have a lot of work to do.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2920.
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