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Aspen Times censored

A confidential settlement of a defamation suit brought against The Aspen Times and its owner could prevent the paper from covering Aspen land-use issues fairly and objectively.

A foreign investor, Vladislav Doronin, who owns the Gorsuch Haus hotel project in Aspen, sued over news coverage and opinion pieces about him.

Swift Communications, the parent company of The Aspen Times, which was acquired by Ogden Newspapers in January, accepted a settlement with the plaintiff, in my opinion, to end even the threat of financial ruin from a guilty verdict. But the secret compact might subject it to censorship by Doronin.



Breaking with The Aspen Times’ staunch defense of Americans’ right to free political expression, the Times new owners signaled on June 2 their willingness to self-censor and cede editorial oversight.

Swift has already begun the self-neutering by sanitizing news articles and expunging opinion pieces it deemed a problem (“Aspen Times defamation suit settles,” Aspen Daily News, June 1). It claims that the censorship is “to ensure The Aspen Times’ standards for accuracy and fairness.”




The Times then-editor-in-chief, David Krause, had rejected Doronin’s demands that the offensive reporting and opinion be censored. Krause responded to Doronin’s lawyers that he would not censor a letter to the editor, the lawsuit said.

Overriding Krause, Swift officials then ordered the hatchet job.

Now, Swift’s publisher at The Aspen Times, Allison Pattillo, says, “There are now no restrictions on The Times coverage of the lift 1A parcel or Doronin.” (“The beginning of a new beginning,” Aspen Times, June 2)

If she wants readers to believe her claim, then Swift needs to reveal the secret settlement compact.

The Ogden Newspapers legal settlement is untenable. Its best course of action is to free itself from the confidential agreement by selling The Aspen Times to a new owner, who can re-establish The Times’ independence and credibility.

Bernie Grauer

Basalt

 


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