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Vail Mountaineer vs. Vail Daily Starbucks-gate: no wonder newspapers are dying
By David O. Williams

April 22, 2009 — OK, I’ve been purposefully withholding comment because the whole episode is so damned amusing, but I finally have to weigh in on the Vail Daily vs. Vail Mountaineer Starbucks-gate scenario.

The details don’t really matter, but here’s a quick encapsulation because the Luddite Mountaineer, Vail’s nearly one-year-old addition to the local media scene, doesn’t believe in the Internet and therefore unless you live here you haven’t been able to keep up:

Apparently the Vail Daily -- I suspect color-blind VD ad rep Mark Bricklin, whom I worked with at the Daily Trail last time we had a full-blown newspaper war – struck a deal with the three local Starbucks stores to provide either free or deeply discounted ads in exchange for exclusive distribution in the stores.

This irked the Mountaineer to the point of writing nearly daily updates on the front page accusing the VD of all sorts of bad acts, which mostly boil down to hard-nosed, competitive sales, marketing and distribution tactics. Rather than striking a similar deal with other local coffee shops, the VM bitched like Chris Paul claiming he got worked over by the defense-deprived Denver Nuggets.

Which leads me to my point, although admittedly it’s a direct rip-off of Amy Poehler and Seth Myers on SNL’s Weekend Update: “Really?”

Really, the only news the crack staff at the VM could come up with for the front page the last few weeks was that their papers are being tossed out of Starbucks? There’s no government corruption, corporate malfeasance, human tragedy or environmental degradation going on that warrants that slot on your front page? Are you a newspaper, or a newsletter on the self interests of your publisher and your staff?

Yes, we had our moments of childish behavior at the Daily Trail – most notably our war of words over whether the Who or Roger Daltrey solo would be playing the grand opening ceremony for Blue Sky Basin (I still think we were originally right). But we buried such tirades deep within our 20 or sometimes 24 pages. Maybe that’s why the paper only lasted two and a half years.

But if that’s what it takes to win a newspaper war, who really wins? The publishers and their bank accounts or the readers thirsty for real news and the journalists struggling from check to check to deliver it to them?

It all makes me glad I’ve been relegated to the Web, where only the whole world can read my rants. And this “letter” writer who e-mailed us on the topic said it much better anyway:

An open letter to the Vail Mountaineer:

I am writing to share my disgust with such childish behavior in your personal battle against Starbucks. First, you claim to be a newspaper. Well then, shouldn’t you be reporting the news?

I can’t believe that almost every day for the past three weeks the only story in your newspaper in the entire valley is that there isn’t room for your publication inside the Starbucks. That for two days in a row last week the crisis we should all be concerned with is the fact that someone moved your “paper” from inside a store. Who really cares?

Second, this vendetta you have against Starbucks is ridiculous to say the least. As a regular at these stores I am sick of seeing the way your staff treats the employees and the delivery staff of the Daily. Verbal assaults and bad attitudes are a daily occurrence. It’s no wonder that Starbucks has asked you to not leave your “paper” lying around their stores.

I wonder what type of compromise you have offered to Starbucks to make your paper available. It seems to me that they didn’t just kick you out of the stores. I know from reading your articles that they offered you to put the papers in their newspaper recycling bin.

Instead of honoring this agreement, your staff continued to put the papers anywhere in the stores they wanted. I am sure if you offered to purchase a new or additional distributing rack, Starbucks would compromise with you.

Now, in order to get my coffee I have to be harassed on my way in and out of Starbucks. Your paper is available at all of three of these Starbuck locations right outside in a box. If people want to read it, they know where to find it, please let me get my coffee in peace!

In your constant attacks against the Vail Daily, you claim that you are a local company trying to support locals. I am aware that Starbucks is a major corporation, but the attack you have launched is only affecting three local Starbucks stores. There are 39 local employees that work in these stores, who depend on their jobs.

You are now asking people to boycott these stores at the cost of their neighbor’s jobs, while patting yourself on the back for creating three part-time, short-term jobs. Are you oblivious to the fact that the employees at these stores are not your enemy? In fact, they are locals of this valley just like you are and, in need of their jobs just as much as anyone else?

In addition to you begging fellow locals to assist you in helping these 39 friendly, hardworking people lose their jobs, you are causing them to be verbally assaulted. Because of your smear campaign I have watched your ignorant readers say unbelievably horrible things to these innocent employees.

I wonder when all is said and done what do you really hope to accomplish? If Starbucks and the Mountaineer are able to come to a compromise, what then? Will you continue to force other local companies into submission, or will the amazing people of the great valley join together and boycott you?

Signed, Jennifer



Comment on article  6 Comments on "Vail Mountaineer vs. Vail Daily Starbucks-gate: no wonder newspapers are dying"


Joself — April 23, 2009

Sounds ridiculous, but then Pavelich is always trying to position himself as the little guy fighting big interests or something, but he's a millionaire many, many times over. What's small is the staff and salaries at his 'newspapers,'but he's no populist. Just a low-ball artist.


Slater — April 25, 2009

David/Jennifer, glad to know there are folks out there who see through Mr. Pavelich and The Mountaineer staff's terribly tasteless approach to delivering the news.


Sharon — April 26, 2009

I'm right there with you! Considering Pavelich made his very first 7 figures ($) off founding and selling the V.D. to it's current owners, I find it sad, even morally questionable, that he and his staff are doing this. Isn't his name still on the masthead of the Vail Daily?


AC — April 29, 2009

Truly pathetic, but so is Don Rogers using his editorial column to sell add space.


David O. — April 29, 2009

Agree. I guess wearing both the pub and ed hat means shamelessly shilling on the commentary page. And I thought Steve Pope was in C. Springs.


Fred — April 30, 2009

As a former Vail resident, I just saw the Mountaineer for the first time. Looks like a cross between the National Enquirer and a parody of some kind. Apparently Pavelich picked up some very bad habits in California -- added to his already existing questionable ethics. Why doesn't the guy just retire with his millions and shut up?



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