Grauer: I see a journalistic wasteland

A just-released investigation into the self-censoring nature of the Aspen press and public radio paints a journalistic wasteland.

The “Report on Aspen’s News Landscape,” by the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), appeared on its website ( on Aug. 5.

An independent nonprofit, COLab promotes high quality Colorado local news reporting and civic engagement.

Readers expressed their low opinion of The Aspen Times and The Aspen Daily News to COLab for the superficial quality of news coverage, criticizing their failure to ask the hard questions and dig deeply, especially for sensitive or controversial issues.

Finally, after months, The Times released a story that was damaging to the credibility of hotel developer Vladislav Doronin.

The report criticized a different story on Doronin from an interview with Daily News editor Megan Tackett. COLab called it a reiteration of his legal complaints. 

David Cook, publisher of the Daily News, excused the paper’s weak news coverage, telling COLab, “Thankfully, readers in Aspen don’t have an appetite for hard news, anyway.”

On the land-flip/Doronin story, Aspen Public Radio was MIA for one of the biggest and most controversial stories of the year.

News director Brent Gardner-Smith gave COLab no explanation for the dead air.

The Daily News’ Cook told COLab that the paper had not done further reporting on Doronin, because, “There’s no story there.”

A New York Times story, “Aspen’s Tangled Summer Saga: The Rich Developer vs. the Local Paper,” showed up about a week later.

Local media need to explain to the public how it will measure up to commonsense journalism standards required for credibility.

Bernard Grauer