Vail Today, other projects expand the Vail Daily’s reach
Under the umbrella
Vail Today: New video story-telling with host Tricia Swenson.
On the Hill: Video content about on-mountain fun from John LaConte and Ross Leonhart.
Off the Hill: Sponsored video featuring Tricia Swenson.
Studio Works: A video-production service.
More to come...
EAGLE-VAIL — Let’s start with the big news: Longtime local TV host Tricia Swenson has moved from her old home at TV8 to the Vail Daily. Swenson’s move is part of the Daily’s broader move into the world of online video.
Swenson started at TV8 — Vail Resorts’ channel on upvalley cable systems — in 1997. She landed at the station the way a lot of Vail Valley stalwarts end up in careers — by being in the right place at the right time.
“Friends were extras in a commercial shoot at Tramonti (in Beaver Creek) and I met the TV8 people,” Swenson said. “On a whim, I said I have a background in communications, and they invited me to the studio.”
Over nearly two decades, Swenson talked to countless people. About the only thing they had in common was being interesting.
A few months ago, Swenson came to the Vail Daily to continue her adventures in local storytelling.
That move marked the start of an expansion of the Vail Daily into what publisher Mark Wurzer calls a “publishing company” that goes beyond print and web news into video and other content.
The expansion of the Daily’s video effort builds on the company’s successful On the Hill features. Those features started with reporter John LaConte providing same-day web videos of conditions on Vail Mountain.
In an email, LaConte wrote that the original idea started in 2012, with a reporter putting on a helmet camera so viewers could see conditions. But the start of that first season was tough, with little terrain open on Vail Mountain.
“My brother, Jacob LaConte, was my most loyal viewer at the time and told me it would never last in this form and I needed to turn it into a true report — addressing the camera, talking to the viewer and featuring interviews with other skiers and snowboarders — all while snowboarding,” LaConte wrote. “He told me to keep the video moving, (the fact that it’s done while snowboarding is what makes On the Hill different than a traditional news report about weather and conditions on the mountain), but also keep the audio moving with comments along the way.”
That became the On the Hill format, which expanded to Beaver Creek in the 2013-14 season with a new reporter, Ross Leonhart.
Leonhart arrived in the Vail Valley midway through the previous ski season, and decided he wanted to be on the mountain every day of the season to come.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Leonhart said. “More important, it provides a good experience for the viewers. It takes them on the hill instead of reading a report.”
The On the Hill format attracted a sponsor, the Steadman Clinic, and broadened the idea of story-telling at the Vail Daily.
LaConte earlier this year did a print/video story about electric-assist bicycles on local recreation paths.
“This way the reader gets a true feel for exactly what the story is,” LaConte wrote. “As a news outlet our main product is the news stories that appear in our paper, so if you’ve already read the paper that day, knowing there’s a more in-depth video available on the website is a reason to visit our site.”
A new umbrella
The immediacy of video is the impetus behind what Wurzer calls an “umbrella” of video and print initiatives.
You’ve probably already seen On the Hill. Swenson’s Off the Hill features have quickly become popular, too.
As of today, Vail Today, a four-times-per week video and print project is launching with Swenson as the host and lead story-teller.
“Vail Today can be anything,” Swenson said.
Wurzer defined that goal a little further.
“We want to find stories that are representative of what makes this a great place — the people, the organizations, the places,” he said.
All that is just the start of a new push toward expanding the Vail Daily’s video presence.
Wurzer said the Vail Daily video team is also at work on a project called Studio Works.
The idea behind Studio Works is to create video that clients will buy, with full control of the content. Those videos won’t end up in the Daily’s print edition or website. Wurzer said that, for instance, a real estate company could create or update property or broker profiles.
Every video that ends up on the website http://www.vaildaily.com will also end up in a permanent archive, so both clients and readers can easily find a piece that may have run a few weeks or months ago.
But why video?
The fact is that people, especially younger people, are more and more using their mobile devices to access video. But, Wurzer said, that’s an opportunity for companies like the Vail Daily.
“My old editor at the Des Moines Register says this is the golden age of story-telling,” Wurzer said. “We’re using the great distribution channels we have to do that.”
Those distribution channels include wide readership of the Vail Daily in print — 90 percent of locals and 70 percent of visitors pick up a print edition at least once a week. The Vail Daily website generates 700,000 unique page views every month, and the Vail Daily’s Facebook page has 15,000 followers.
“It’s very forward thinking,” Swenson said. “It’s the newsroom of the future.”
That future also includes more sponsorship opportunities.
“I see video as a nice complement to any story and a great opportunity for a sponsor to associate their brand with a particular beat,” LaConte wrote.
Now all Swenson has to do is get the message out to everyone who knows her face that she’s moved her workplace.
“I go to the grocery store and people still think I’m (at TV8 and the Vail Daily),” she said.
But, she added, she’s feeling at home at her new office in Eagle-Vail.
“The response I’ve received is amazing,” she said. “It’s amazing how many more eyeballs see it.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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