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On #GivingNewsDay, I donated to my three favorite Colorado nonprofit media sites working hard to cover environmental, health, political, immigration, race and inequality issues and provide that content free of charge to understaffed publications around the state, including my own website, RealVail.com.
I did not share any of my hard-earned freelance funds with for-profit media companies that have accepted taxpayer dollars in the form of forgivable PPP “loans” and other bailout funds, and, in my opinion, have not done enough to support freelancers and longtime journalists whose institutional knowledge is invaluable in communities like ours. My reasons remain the same.
Nothing about Tuesday’s news of the pending buyout of Swift Communications (the Vail Daily’s parent company) by West Virginia’s Ogden Newspapers leads me to believe my stance on this issue will be changing anytime soon.
Ogden CEO Robert Nutting has earned the nickname Bottom Line Bob for his terrible tenure as owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Apparently, he’s as bad or worse than the hapless Colorado Rockies owners, the Monforts.
I fondly remember the We Are Family Pirates (think Willie Stargell) when we lived in D.C. and owned a ski cabin in western Pennsylvania near our home mountain of Blue Knob. Other than three years under former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, Bottom Line Bob’s ownership of the Bucs has been sad and pathetic, much like the Monfort reign with the Rox.
The fact Nutting owns some crappy ski areas in PA (I can say that because I learned to ski there) will in no way endear him to ski towns like Aspen and Vail, and it’s hard to believe he’ll invest in journalists and editors as the traditional family-owned newspaper model circles drains around the nation – let alone lowly freelancers like me.
On top of team mismanagement, it also seems like BLB and the Ogdens are conservative donors to the GOP, which makes some amount of sense – most business owners do trend Republican. But these days it means backing Mad-MAGA insurrectionist anti-vaxxers like the ones running for local school boards.
Couple of quick notes on what may end up being my swansong contribution to the Vail Daily – my school board column prior to last month’s election that first appeared on RealVail.com: It was just that, an unpaid contribution to the local dialogue. I have not had a Swift-paid byline in the Vail Daily since March of 2020.
I am not part of the Vail Daily team, as one factually challenged letter writer insinuated, and I stand by everything I wrote. If you launch your political career in a nonpartisan race by standing on the same stage as toxic U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert – in a county Boebert lost by 23 percentage points — you deserve to see that political career end at infancy.
What was strange to me is that the Vail Daily endorsed candidates and issues in every 2021 race locally, except school board. The local paper of record should have done more to cover the issues I raised in pre-election news stories, and then they should have endorsed candidates in that race.
Who knows if they’ll be able to opine at all under new ownership based in a coal state with a DINO senator who’s holding President Joe Biden’s progressive agenda hostage – an agenda, especially on the climate front, that’s wildly popular in snow-starved, drought-and-fire-ravaged Colorado.
I can’t see a GOP mouthpiece pub flying in a place like Aspen, which leans progressive and where Swift’s Aspen Times already has direct daily competition from the Aspen Daily News. And if Ogden takes that tack there or in any of their other markets, from Vail to Steamboat, they’ll be opening themselves up to Colorado competition – online, on the airwaves, and maybe even in print.