Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Core values
Vail, CO Colorado
Many of my colleagues at my first paper are still there, over two decades later, in the northern Sierra.
Last I looked, I worked with half the managers and several staff people while I was a reporter and then the editor. All great workers and people.
I took the career path, hastened by the fact of my newspaper journey being a second career after blowing out a knee while wildland firefighting. I jumped from paper to paper as I learned what I needed from each to move to the next. At peak, we were moving every other year.
None of that next handful of papers in my migrations across the country approached that level of mutual commitment as I see at my first one.
The owner never talked about this, but clearly he believes in developing a core of people who stick with him and he sticks with them through thick and thin, boom times and bust.
American business discounts this kind of loyalty, most famously in the corporate entities. The employees and management tend to look warily at each other as tools, in the high and low senses of the word. The prevailing concern for both: “What’s in it for me?”
Holding onto people can be impractical. Sticking with a company that you just know would shed you on a whim is foolish.
And so I kept moving until we lucked into Vail. Right community for us. Right company, too.
This isn’t my first paper, but here was the place I saw the opportunity to apply the core lesson from my first paper.
I believe in the value of core people. I prize them, actually, most of all. These are folks who may have flaws or quirks, but they bring a level of commitment and, well, love of their community and place in it to their jobs. It’s an intangible, which may be why this quality is so widely discounted.
These are folks who don’t think so much in terms of “what’s in it for me,” but understand they are building that cathedral, or at least have a hand in building our community – better for being better informed, having more successful businesses that in turn can give more, and stronger community service groups.
That’s our real role here. Frankly, it’s what inspires me past my narrow “what’s in it for me” interests – necessary, of course, but maybe not so healthy as the dominant driver.
The Great Recession tests this. We’ve pared down as necessary, as your organization did, in part by making decisions about people. That fact of this being dreadful didn’t change the need to do so.
Talent, skill and productivity certainly factor mightily into these cruel exercises of “Survivor.” But I think even more important is hard-wired commitment, a form of loyalty.