High Points: The legacy of The Times
There are some sacred things in this town.
Things that, by virtue of having been around for a long while, have become a part of the fabric of our community. The Hotel Jerome falls in that category. So does the Wheeler Opera House. Lift 1A.
And, hopefully, so does the newspaper that you are holding in your hands right now.
The Aspen Times made its debut as a weekly on Saturday, April 23, 1881. The stated goal of the paper’s original owner was to bring news of the outside world over Independence Pass to the community of miners who toiled in the Roaring Fork Valley trying to find silver.
That original owner, by the way, was Davis Hanson Waite, who would go on to serve a controversial stint as the eighth governor of Colorado from 1893 to 1895. His house on the corner of West Francis and North Second streets stands to this day and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
D.H. Waite sold the paper in 1885 to B. Clark Wheeler, who began to publish daily editions. Hard times befell the community following the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 by President Cleveland, but through thick and thin, The Aspen Times has been a part of Aspen’s newspaper heritage.
I have had the great privilege of being a part of that heritage these past few years writing this column. Occasionally, I have ranted and ridiculed in this space, but mostly I have 52 weekly columns a year to ruminate on everything and anything that I find good in our town.
If you have been reading the papers, this one and the Aspen Daily News, you know that there have been big changes at The Aspen Times over the past year or so. This paper has relatively new ownership and a new home. There have been defections to the Daily News by veteran local newspaper people like Rick Carroll and Scott Condon, as well as the columnist Roger Marolt.
Basically, that means that new people are now in charge of maintaining the legacy of this venerable paper. Editor Don Rogers and Publisher Allison Pattillo have labored to replace staff and keep the presses running, and their new crew has been indefatigable in their efforts to get the paper out each day. They haven’t missed one yet. Kudos to them for their work.
And, as would be expected, those at the Daily News have not missed the opportunity to sling a few arrows at The Times. The Times Editor Don Rogers has not resisted firing back in his weekly column, which is in the spirit of the kind of newspaper wars that used to exist when towns had more than one paper.
Change is always a little hard, but as has been the case over the past 140 years plus, this paper will always be bigger and last longer than any of the editors, publishers, reporters, columnists, advertising salespeople, designers, and most of all, owners, who work to produce it at any given time.
That is one of the great things about not just The Times, but any newspaper. It is a living, breathing thing that endures as long as those who work to put it out understand that a newspaper’s raison d’etre is to speak the truth to its constituency. That its sole reason for being is to report well on what matters most to the readers.
Personally, I miss reading Rick and Scott (Roger, not so much) in this historic paper and wish them well. But I’m rooting for the new editors, publishers, and reporters and wish them best of luck as they endeavor to put out the best paper possible. What is important is that The Aspen Times continues to serve you, the community.
And that is a High Point.