Rogers: Notes from the twilight between years |

Rogers: Notes from the twilight between years

Aspen Times editor Don Rogers
Courtesy photo

Looking back, looking ahead, here we are in the holiday twilight, this week between years.

2022 is a wrap and 2023 doesn’t yet roll awkwardly off the tongue. Along the Roaring Fork, the interlude’s mostly about celebration, especially with snow, every reason but looming recession to feel good.

And we’re in Aspen, after all. Afghanistan, Ukraine lie far away in every sense, distant echoes of cries for perspective while maybe a few too many here dwell on our imperfections.

Yes, it’s been quite a year. Putin’s folly. Trump’s fall. The loosening of Covid’s grip, China’s comeuppance. The world spins, weather amok. But hey, long as there’s snow …

How much do we care about the world outside, really?

Louis Vuitton hits town, stoking resentment among the affordable housing clique, genuine acquisitive interest in the wares from another. The gap is wide, perhaps widest here. You can blow a lot more than my annual salary on one weekend stay at a short-term rental. You might scrape together your last dime for one of those $3,000 season ski passes and call it a good deal even though you’ll couch surf or make do with overnighting in some secret spot all winter to make that happen.

We live our lives personally, moment to moment. It only takes a missed meal to know this. Ask someone from Parachute who buses in each day to change guests’ sheets or cook those fancy French meals the chef will take credit for. And then catch the late express back home. We take our comforts for granted, we who can.

So I look back at my year under advisement. Wild, sometimes wacky. Sorrows, surely. My sister up and died in her sleep in August, go figure. Triumphs I’ll accept where I can: publishing the story everyone said The Aspen Times wouldn’t or thought we couldn’t; a full and fully alive news staff in time for Election Night. Loss of position, loss of a job, taking a super engaging new one. Nothing I could have imagined at this time last year.

The more trying times are when we learn the most about ourselves. Looking to the fates, I guess I didn’t need another year of gain. Strange to say about the pandemic, but my role or at least responsibility only grew as it took hold and then ground on. Little did I know it would presage a sale of my familiar company, same as The Times.

We knew a shift was coming with 2022, when support from the PPP loan and employee tax credits would elapse and we’d be back to regular business, in essence eating what we killed, an inelegant if accurate way of putting it. This change in ownership did not come with the pain and layoffs of 2002, when Swift bought The Times and one of two papers in Glenwood Springs, then pared Glenwood’s to one.

One firing for cause and eventually a RIF in another department was it for Aspen in 2022. At my papers at the time, there were no personnel changes. In this respect, the transfer from one family to another amounted to ripples. Basically it was the same as I had planned while still ignorant of the pending sale.

But then my baby sold again, and The Aspen Times newsroom blew up amid a thunderclap of missteps and misunderstandings surrounding a defamation suit. For me, loss and new opportunity collided all at once. The bloodless blow in Grass Valley looks like the lasting one. The “dead” newsroom in Aspen reloaded in three months, delayed only by the ridiculous cost of housing that afflicts all employers.

I lost my position first thing, a line drawn through too pricey a salary and a colleague more than ready to step in. Made sense, I had to acknowledge. What didn’t make sense were the lines drawn through half the newsroom positions. At full this newsroom was what critics called empty at The Times, an irony I noted.

Friends in and out of my business had been talking of getting tired, tired of it all. Some retired. Some found other careers. Some just quit, figuring something else surely would turn up. Everyone was hiring.

The pandemic had everything to do with this, I think. The huge shift toward remote work. The weird economic swings. A grind with no end. The very sale of the company I’d been with for 21 years.

But I didn’t grow weary like my friends. Defeat did not discourage. I thought my newest employers were morons, from the vantage no doubt of a bruised ego, but I took their offer to be editor, and began getting calls.

I only grew more energized as Aspen came into focus and then became reality. If anything, I’m more excited now, contemplating 2023. I won’t pretend to understand why, and I don’t want to question it too far. I like the feeling, this sense The Times is on the cusp of great things this coming year, and the next after that.

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at