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Britta Gustafson: Shining a light on the Sun

Britta Gustafson for The Snowmass Sun.

The smaller the community, the more important its newspaper. And Snowmass Village is still a small town, even as we’ve grown into a renowned resort.

And it’s true that “nobody covers Snowmass like the Sun,” because nobody prioritizes our news, attends all the events and local happenings, sits through all the town meetings and knows our community as well as we know ourselves. 

The Snowmass Villager came on to the scene in 1967, just as Snowass the resort was emerging, too; the paper ran as a supplement to The Aspen Times, much like the Sun does today. Then, when our town was incorporated in 1977, our first Mayor Jack Schuss understood the value of local media and helped to co-found the Snowmass Sun, a newspaper firmly based in Snowmass. With its advent, the Snowmass Villager soon faded; we now had ourselves a genuine source of local news for our community. 



By having a space for our own public information, we have been able to exist as both a community and a resort, not just the latter. 

Though the Sun has had several owners over the decades, its reporters and editors have continued to live here as our community members, and they have provided an invaluable public service as government watchdogs. They have helped to build historic archives and supported Snowmass as an independent space by upholding our own local values and preventing our town from becoming only an extension of Aspen real estate.




However you feel about the integrity of The Aspen Times, Snowmass Village still needs a local news source. We need a dedicated newspaper staff, even if our paper is once again embedded here within the Times. And we should continue to do whatever we can to protect our local paper and our only Snowmass-specific news source, because the cost of losing it would be devastating to our community. The most significant loss would be community trust, a loss in the trust of our government, a loss of trust in our local knowledge base, a loss in our ability to stay engaged, and a loss of trust in our community at large. 

A local newspaper represents the public by helping to keep a local “open” government, sharing information about actions occurring at government meetings, gathering information from open government records, and publishing government notices. These steps are the foundation for open government; without any one of them, “openness” is compromised.

Other local media like our larger Aspen papers and public radio options can provide news coverage, but covering the full Roaring Fork Valley has Aspen’s news at the center. And though it’s easy for community members to share information on social media, that information may be incomplete, out of context or simply not true. 

For obvious reasons, this media simply cannot provide the detailed and complete coverage of our small community as well as someone dedicated to the beat who can provide first-hand coverage supported by interviews, public records and thorough edits. 

The Snowmass Sun still separates the wheat from the chaff, telling it like it is, with quality coverage of fun as well as the necessary informative news. It’s not so important that it be loved. It’s important that it exists, can be respected and trusted.

As an editorial assistant at The Snowmass Sun years ago, I had the honor of working for thorough dedicated journalists and I learned so much from their diligence and endurance to uphold the truth for our town. Those who have followed have continued to advocate for Snowmass Village as a separate and distinct newsworthy entity.

Now, as a columnist for the Sun, I’ve continued to grow while writing in the first person about the community I love. It has been an honor and I don’t take the privilege for granted. I care wholeheartedly about our community. 

Our weekly newspaper supplement isn’t just a vehicle for advertising and we can’t allow it to become one, or to slowly disappear. We still need reporters to dig around uncovering stories that affect us and perhaps even more so when we find ourselves too close to see the issues at hand.

I used to believe that it went without saying that reporters speak truth to power. Without the media, who protects those segments of our society that are not represented in the room? Journalism — specifically print — supports our system of checks and balances. 

Please support this paper with what you say and with what you post. Advertise in it specifically, make your commitment to The Snowmass Sun separate from the Times, protest if it is ever in jeopardy and value it. It is our pipeline to knowledge, and it keeps our town ours.

As Mark Twain once put it: “There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe — only two — the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here.”

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree, what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at brittag@ymail.com.

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