Peterson: Tell us how you really feel
The Vail Daily is perfect and should change absolutely nothing.
The Vail Daily needs to stop pandering to tourists.
The Vail Daily needs to stop promoting political agendas.
The Vail Daily is the PR arm of Vail Resorts and local governments.
The Vail Daily needs to be less liberal.
The Vail Daily needs fewer real estate ads.
The Vail Daily needs to report on all the local high schools equally.
The Vail Daily needs to do more investigative reporting.
The Vail Daily needs to get rid of Richard Carnes, Jack Van Ens, Chris Romer and Butch Mazzuca.
The Vail needs to bring back the comics page, the Daily Dog and the scoreboard page.
Hey, don’t take it from me — take it from the 621 readers who weighed in when we asked in a recent reader survey for the one thing they’d like to improve or change about the Vail Daily.
That’s 621 readers among more than 1,300 who filled out our survey — a large community response for a news outlet of our size.
My favorite comment? “The Vail Daily is important to anyone who cares about Vail.”
I certainly hope that’s the case from my spot in the editor’s chair, and to be sure, a majority of those 621 comments were decidedly positive. Plenty of readers told us they love the coverage our news team provides on the local economy, tourism and the ski industry, local events and personalities, and local government. Our events calendar also rated very highly with readers, as well as our breaking news alerts.
Also encouraging: The top two actions readers said they take as a result of what they read in the Vail Daily, whether online or in print, are patronizing a local business and sharing something they learned with others.
As a local business that’s been around for 40 years, we’re well aware of how important our homegrown businesses are to the vitality of this valley and our news operation. We also know that readers sharing something they learned from the Vail Daily with others is absolutely critical for us to stay in business.
If we’re not important to anyone who cares about this valley — whether you’re a longtime local, a newcomer, a second-home owner or a visitor — well, then, we’re in trouble.
That doesn’t at all seem to be the case from all the data at our disposal, whether it’s our online metrics, this most recent reader survey, or the feedback we get out in the community and in our inboxes. The Vail Daily, as I said when I took this job more than two years ago, is the exception to the rule when it comes to local legacy media operations.
But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the crisis in local journalism. Quite the opposite.
Since 2004, about 1,800 newspapers have closed in the United States — a trend only accelerated by the pandemic. And it’s not just community newspapers closing. According to the Pew Research Center, newspapers have shed half their employees since 2008.
The Vail Daily’s newsroom staff is about half of what it was when I arrived here in 2003 fresh out of college for my first real job. The Great Recession took a sizable bite out of newsrooms across our family-owned chain of newspapers, and the pandemic certainly knocked us for a loop, as well.
It’s a reality that you see everywhere in local journalism, with fewer reporters available to cover all the news — which makes for less depth in the reporting and a community that’s less informed.
Given that reality, trust me — we’re not at all sitting around feeling sorry for what once was, nor are we patting ourselves on the back every day based on all the positive feedback we get from the community.
Readers like the Vail Daily, and tell us so all the time, but we’re only as good as the product we put out every single day. Tomorrow is never guaranteed in this business.
With that said, two themes that emerged from this recent survey is that readers want more investigative journalism and that some readers feel the Vail Daily is biased in its coverage and in its opinion offerings.
These are fair points, and I’ll address each of them in future columns.
Lastly, if you filled out the reader survey, thanks for taking the time to tell us how you feel we’re doing, and where we can improve. More to come.
Nate Peterson is the editor of the Vail Daily. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.