Don Rogers to lead The Aspen Times newsroom

Staff report
Aspen Times editor Don Rogers

Newspaper man Don Rogers has run publications in a few ski towns. Now he can add Aspen to the list.

Rogers starts Monday as the editor of The Aspen Times, which has been without a permanent, full-time editor since mid-May when David Krause resigned.

The former editor and publisher of the Vail Daily, Rogers said he is eager to help turn around The Aspen Times newsroom, which has been reeling from a mass exodus of employees, reader complaints of stories and opinion pieces not being published, an uninformed public due to a reporter shortage, a public relations crisis from settling a defamation lawsuit that its ownership would not let the newsroom cover, and the termination of editor-to-be Andrew Travers, among other setbacks. As well, the Pitkin County government, in response to the firing of Travers, moved its legal advertising to The Aspen Daily News, and by doing so made it the city’s paper of record, stripping the Times of the distinction.

Rogers comes to Aspen from The Union daily newspaper serving Grass Valley and Nevada County, California, where he began work in May 2016. Prior to that he was editor and publisher of the Vail Daily from 2009-2016.

“This falls into the category of never would have thunk it possible a little over a month ago, but I think every journalist, gonzo and otherwise, has dreamed at some point about working in Aspen,” Rogers said. “That the fates have conspired to make it so is exciting even knowing this isn’t the best time in the rich history of The Aspen Times. But the idea that I might be able to help is awesome in all senses of the word.”

Rogers’ experience includes publisher and ad director from 2007-08 at the Record-Courier serving Gardnerville-Minden, Nevada; publisher of The Union in Grass Valley, California; Sierra Sun (also ad director) in Truckee, California; and then Nevada County Publishing Co., including South Lake Tahoe Tribune from 2016-21.

Rogers, a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service from 1977 to 1984, cut his teeth as a reporter and editor working for California newspaper company Feather Publishing Ltd. from 1985 to 1989.

“My family and I know Aspen only as frequent visitors over the years, my wife since childhood,” he said. “Most recent for me is participating in Aspen Words. We came for our kids’ cross country meets and band concerts back when they were in high school. We escaped here, just the two of us, for some memorable weekends.”

The Times currently has open positions for two reporters, an arts and entertainment editor who also would run the Aspen Times Weekly, a Snowmass Sun editor who doubles up as a reporter, a sports reporter and a digital-engagement editor.

The newsroom currently consists of a sports editor who also handles photography duties, one reporter, one page designer and a managing editor. With Rogers aboard, it will now have five full-time employees. The publication also has a stable of contributing columnists, writers and a temporary Aspen Times Weekly editor.

Said Rogers: “I’m mindful that living and working in a place is not the same as visiting, and that the learning curve will be very steep, the cliff side of Half Dome. There’s no better job for learning a community than as a journalist, and I’m excited about that. I’m also mindful of the legacy at The Times, the voice and more than occasional brilliance there. There’s a lot to live up to.” 

The Aspen Times was acquired Jan. 1 by West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers from Nevada-based Swift Communications. The paper was founded in 1881.