Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

On a recent trip to Denver I found myself seated at lunch with a reporter from The Denver Post.

“How’s it up in the mountains?” he asked. Naturally, I began to go on and on about the snow conditions, about how we had a had a thaw and things got a little icy but the big storm this week really helped etc., etc. “No,” he said with both exasperation and disinterest, “I meant how’s it up in the mountains with the economy and all.”

Oops, I forgot, I was in the big city now, out of our little bubble where the way of the world centers on the condition of the snow. Real-world people want to talk about real-world things. So I rolled out the stats and gave him some numbers about how we are down for the year in skier numbers and how the real-estate market was flat or less and how there are empty seats on the airlines, etc. etc.

As I spoke I could tell, just by looking at him, that there was some satisfaction in his eyes that grew with each down-tick I recited. I mean, it was almost as if he was happy that those of us “up in the mountains” were not immune to the vagaries of the real world troubles that are tormenting those in the big cities.

It made me a little angry, so as I was closing my litany of negativity I finished by saying, “But at least we’re still a two-newspaper town.”

It was a shot to be sure. Denver, as you probably know, is the latest American city to become a one-paper town after the closing of the late and already lamented Rocky Mountain News. And this reporter from the Post is acutely aware of just how tenuous his position in the great journalistic food chain is. But the shot was a way for this mountain man to declare a degree of superiority for our town in terms that he could clearly understand.

The fact is we are blessed by having two daily newspapers publishing in this little burg. Two-paper towns are healthier than those that have been reduced to one, or in some places none. The competition produces better coverage. Two papers give readers choices, and they offer readers different takes on similar subjects. And two papers keep more journalists employed than one. All these are good things.

As we move forward there will likely be more newspaper closings in major cities. Seattle and San Francisco, two towns that desperately need dailies, are facing challenging circumstances. Even my lunchmate’s paper, The Denver Post, now a monopoly, needs a boost. It is my hope that these institutions, these voices of and for their cities, can survive these trying times.

But locally, it is imperative that we keep our two papers operating. It is a sign of our health as a community that we have both options to read on a daily basis.

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