Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

While we have been gifted with extraordinary spring weather these last couple of days I must cop to a sense of melancholy.

Perhaps it is the tenor of the Times that is getting to me. Like all newspapers in America this one has been under siege. While we all thought, wrongly as it turned out, that we here in Aspen would somehow be immune to the economic calamity, that obviously has not been the case. The downturn has had a dramatically negative effect on advertising and when you are a newspaper, especially one that is provided to readers free of charge, that hurts.

From a personal standpoint, Paul E. Anna has lost his editor. And I have got to tell you, I loved my editor. He was my reader, my advocate. He protected me from myself and, you, the public, from my mistakes. Temporarily, one hopes, he has been placed on leave.

May the sun shine on all his days off and the wind blow mainly on his prodigious back, and may he return soon to once again read my column thoroughly before publication each week.

They say that the death knell for newspapers has already sounded and that it will only be a matter of time before they are relics of the past like leather ski boots. As one who always thought that leather ski boots were a cool thing, I certainly hope that “they” are wrong.

The reasons for the demise of the daily paper are many. The growth of the new media, the consolidation of newspapers that turned them into commodities, bought and sold with debt financing, and, of course the recession. Major cities are losing major papers. Seattle’s is already gone; an online edition is all that is left of the Post Intelligencer’s spinning globe. And speaking of globes, the Boston Globe is hanging by a thread.

But as I look at this paper I believe that it will survive in a time where many big city dailies won’t. For starters there is a line on the masthead reading “SINCE 1881”. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last One-Hundred and Twenty-Seven years. There have been booms and busts. This paper has seen big winters, quiet days, world wars, the death of silver, the birth of skiing, irrational exuberance and any number of calamitous times.

But it is still here.

This town and its people need newspapers. They need the news, they need the reviews, they need the photos, they need the opinions, the need the letters to the editor, and yes, they need the columns. Why? Because by reflecting us, the newspapers help to define us. They help us find out who we are in a given time.

My Paul E. Anna thought of the day is that the Times will survive these times. That the advertising market in town will turn around, hand in hand with the improvement of the retail market and the real estate market and the tourist market.

And that I will one day, in the not too distant future, get my editor back.


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