Rogers: Blessed is a two-paper town
People sometimes ask me what I think of the other paper.
Well, I tell them, mostly I’m happy there is another paper. This is rare in the sunset of newspapers, after 400 or so years, passing toward whatever comes next. Far more towns now have none at all.
I’ve been fortunate enough at most stops in my career to have a print rival. Sure, there’s plenty of competition with broadcast and online-only local news media. But it’s not the same as head to head with another paper.
In Holland, Mich., it was a bureau from Grand Rapids with a local section. In Sterling-Rock Falls, Ill., it was equally little Dixon, Reagan’s hometown. In Auburn, N.Y., it was Syracuse, morning and evening editions. North county San Diego, the U-T vs. our baby metro with a circ of only 100,000, though complete with two presses and nine zoned editions that also competed with smaller local papers.
Then in Vail it was the Daily Trail, and years later I got to come back to do battle with a new upstart daily, The Vail Mountaineer.
In Truckee, Calif., we had to make do with the monthly Moonshine Ink and nuthin’ at all down the mountain in Grass Valley, which had re-sized to nuthin’ at all when I left. Competition would have been good for everyone.
So yeah, I love the existence alone of the Aspen Daily News. I like the journalists over there, too. We’re rivals, but we share much in common. I met Jacqueline Reynolds at an Aspen Words event last fall, long before any inkling I’d work here. Had lunch — well, four garnished cucumber slices atop the Aspen Art Museum — with Megan Tackett. Have sat at Aspen City Council sessions a few times so far with Megan Webber. I’ve read Scott Condon for years.
What’s not to like? This is my tribe, after all. Besides, you never know who will wind up a colleague, even a friend.
I’m told sometimes I have something of a competitive streak. Maybe from being raised in sports. Maybe a family curse. Oh, I’ll always reach out a hand to help you up, though that kind of presupposes first you’re going down.
I don’t just like to win. I’m not necessarily happy when I do. The need probably is more pathological.
A colleague once commented to my son, a collegiate cross country runner, on his evident competitiveness, referring to apples and trees with a nod toward his dad.
“Him?” My son scoffed. “You should see my mom.”
Oh, I’m acutely aware the Daily News has a lead on us. I can count the steps, at least begin to size up their strengths and possible weaknesses. I can flip my viewpoint and even more so understand how I would compete with The Aspen Times.
But let’s just say the Twain line about news of his demise rings loud in my ears, The Atlantic be damned. I don’t mind being underestimated, buried, all the dancing these days on our grave. Y’all go right ahead.
Already I see I’ve gotten under the skin of at least one columnist over there, and that they’ve squandered more of their lead than they might realize. That’s plain enough. I’m looking forward to when we bring the fight to them more directly. It only feels like an eternity we’ve been down and counted out. This will pass, and soon.
Sometimes, I wonder how long the lashings will go on, though I know the answer: Forever and then it will just stop, forgotten. For now, the wounds over here are fresh and no one expects quick relief from reverberations yet to come. Still, we have our jobs to do.
From strictly the vantage of my high calling, I’m glad journalists can choose other places to continue their craft, including at the other paper in town. Each publication has benefited from such migration over the years and decades.
Each rides high and is brought low in turn. The institutions are bigger than their players and owners. The cells that make up the body today are not the same as yesterday’s, basically, or tomorrow’s. We’re all replaceable. The Daily News and The Times themselves march on.
Today The Times takes justifiable criticism for pausing (or whatever term you choose) comment and coverage of 1A during the life of a defamation suit since settled. And the Daily News probably should, too, for overlooking (or whatever term you choose) key coverage.
How does The Times both collapse and still beat the News on any of it? This isn’t merely a snide remark, but a real question. Maybe one for the badass columnist over there.
We’re behind the News on most counts, though not in the courage or guts department for all the hooting about us. I don’t see us giving up that as we catch up with the rest, step by step.