Rogers: When the joke’s on you, listen up |

Rogers: When the joke’s on you, listen up

Aspen Times editor Don Rogers

It’s always instructive when you are mocked, criticized, ridiculed, lied about, the brunt of mean jokes, bullied or otherwise verbally assaulted.

I think so, anyway. Folks sometimes think I’m too sanguine about such things, that response, even counter attack is merited.

Live by the word, die by the word. Warriors go in twice as hot, give no quarter, don’t worry overly much about strict truth, which isn’t the point anyway. At root, isn’t that what Trump has taught us?

He and others like him understand folks also tend to be overly concerned about what others think of them, find comfort in their group, stay safely within in the bounds of acceptance, never sticking out too far, taking great care in what they wear for these very reasons. Don’t want to be a microwave, after all. Each herd that makes up Aspen shares these guidelines in form if not detail.

That’s simply how we live today everywhere, in highly social hives, telling ourselves and others the necessary mix of lies and conventional truisms to carry on. What’s perhaps most pronounced in middle school hangs on through life. Vulnerable, we go to offense.

Anyway, I’m no one to cry foul. I criticize plenty of others for a living. I don’t conform well by nature. I point out elephants in the room by bad blurting habit. I care far more about what is actually true than what others might think of me on pure, cussed principle.

Speaking of truth, that’s what I look for when criticized or mocked. It’s more nuanced than the statements themselves, which almost always are twisted to something false for effect. The truth lies more in clues to what critics reveal about themselves, their attitude, grasp of facts, respect for evidence, knowledge, outlook, wit, basic manners.

My advice from long experience is to go diagnostic when attacked or mocked even as you redden and perhaps begin to rage.

It’s a little like the classic advice for public speaking, that bit about imagining the audience naked. Your critics are only exposing themselves while going after you. There’s a lot to learn from that.


So it is with the Aspen Daily News seeing fit to make a joke of their Saturday edition, being April Fools’ Day and all. They devoted two joke pieces to trashing us, I’d say with intent beyond the typical fooling or roasting nature of these editions. Of course I read with extra interest.

I read them every day, as you might imagine. First, I read with plain joy that a town in America this size has two competing daily papers. There’s only one other in the entire country, after all, while news deserts spread like Sauron as Google and Facebook, highly successful parasites, suck away the revenue that used to go back into local journalism.  

I’m happy for the journalists in town having places they can go when for one reason or another it isn’t working out where they are currently. Seems all the long timers have worked at The Times and the Daily News, sometimes twice at each, and don’t forget this merry-go-round extends to Aspen Journalism, Aspen Public Radio and on downvalley. This is easily the richest local news media environment anywhere.

Second, I see they still are dancing furiously on our grave though we’ve sat up and brushed off enough dirt from The Troubles of last year to run about a third more local content than them, a quarter more letters than them (sorry Roger), and some days double their pages.

At full staff, we have more journalists and we pay a little better than they do. So there is that. Maybe a little chat is in order with their own owners. At the least, though, isn’t it time to quit with what’s become a false narrative about us since last fall?

I don’t know their online metrics or how many papers they print, but ours are at pre-Troubles numbers. Even folks who say they aren’t reading us are reading us. You can tell by what they reference that ran only in our paper while making a deal about, um, never reading us.


Am I offended? Not in the least. I’m flattered in a way that we’re still under their skin, plainly. The mean girl thing is a little unbecoming, and I do think they squandered an edition, but I would, wouldn’t I?

I like the journalists over there and respect their work, most definitely. I view them as formidable competition and good people slugging away at a familiar job. That I also see they are wrong about a few things, well, we’re all wrong about a few things.

I don’t mind that they underestimate us or can’t seem to count. Maybe that’s too much to expect from a journalist, though there is that niggling, sometimes inconvenient truth we’re supposedly committed to, with almost every paper in this country today less staffed per capita than either of us.

See, we’re not lying in that grave they’ve fashioned for us. But go ahead, keep throwing dirt and dancing.

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at