In a word | VailDaily.com

In a word

Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

For my birthday, I stripped myself of a title.

I’m no longer editor & publisher. Just publisher now.

Managing Editor Ed Stoner has handled the full editor reins for some time — quite and ever more capably. Check that: Editor Ed Stoner.

My role doesn’t change. I’m still responsible for the news department, along with sales, distribution, marketing, magazines, the organization. The whole Vail Daily shebang.

So just a word change. No big deal. Right?

Well …

I joke I have the best job I never sought, never applied for, barely said yes to, and never wanted beyond doing my part to help get us through the Great Recession and then I’d decide what I really wanted to do after that.

I know. I know. Helluva attitude toward quite possibly the best job in newspapers anywhere. The envy of his peers — and the publishers of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today who should want to kill for this post if they only knew — all stand-offish and holding his nose.

But way, way back when, I signed up for journalism. That’s the career I craved. If I wanted to get in business, I’d have gone to, I don’t know, Wall Street. Worked at my dad’s blueprint shop in Honolulu. Or my uncle’s custom refrigeration company somewhere in the bowels of LA. Gotten an MBA. Franchised for Amway.

My fascination held for stories, not sales. Writing, not spreadsheets. Don’t even get started with marketing.

Delivery? I was the rare paper boy who got himself fired. My first job seriously hampered the grand plan to someday replace Merlin Olson as defensive tackle for our Los Angeles Rams, thanks to my dumb mom who marched me down and signed me up for after-school work just when I needed to develop my moves at the playground, telling me it was high time I learned responsibility. Delivery? You’re talking about delivery? Channel Allen Iverson talking about practice. Couldn’t let little things like this distract from the main mission at age 10. What didn’t she understand about the NFL?

Until a week ago, my last tenuous hold on my adult calling clung by a word. Ed had ripped away the work, run with the role, taken all the responsibility, called the shots down in the newsroom, while nodding politely at the old dodderer wandering occasionally through the department as if he still ruled. Hah.

No, Ed did pretty much everything I asked of him, and then a lot more. He’s also our reigning digital news genius with a knack for projects the advertising department can sell. He’s stepped into the role very, very well. Damn him.

So yes, it’s kind of a big deal.

I identified myself by “editor,” the role I had most often through almost three decades now at papers across the country. This “publisher” thing always smacked too much of suits, golf courses and cocktail parties. I’m still a jeans, noon hoops and beer kind of guy. I drive a pickup wearing all of its 200,000 miles instead of some low shiny sleek sedan, black no doubt.

“Editor” was my mental back door, my quick escape, my last tie to the world I know in case “publisher” got too fancy pants.

Now I’m up on the wire without the net. Publisher. Responsible for the business and the organization. Where the buck stops. Yikes. Now there’s expectations.

This is not actual reality, mind you. In fact, I’ve been the publisher at the Vail Daily longer than anyone other than Bob Brown. And I think it’s only months before I’ll eclipse his tenure like Kobe passing Jordan, the lesser outlasting the master.

With my birthday, I’m older and presumably wiser. Time to drop the crutch, let Ed be ed. He’s more than earned it. And I can’t keep fooling myself that I haven’t fully embraced my role by now. Might even have to trade in that pickup soon. (Golf? Never.)

Really, it’s no big deal.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.