By David O. Williams
Packy Walker takes shot at Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in Fourth of July parade
July 5, 2008 —
First off, a few Fourth of July notes on the Vail America Days parade, then some local and regional media notes for you insatiable news junkies.
Packy Walker, local lodge manager and all-around legend, once again won the best political statement award at the annual parade for his commentary on Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and the ongoing controversy over just how many more skiers will inundate Vail next season without adequate parking or workers to serve them because of the lack of affordable housing (see picture).
Pack in the past has riffed on all sorts of topics, including memorably dressing in golf attire and carrying a sign that read “Save the links,” a take on the endangered Canada lynx controversy. The Vail police asked him to leave the parade for that one.
But Packy always seems to be more on the money than the local Dems and GOPs, who came out in force this election year. Notably, the GOPs were led into battle by a gigantic gas-sucking SUV adorned in McCain placards (see picture), while the Dems were mostly on foot.
State House District 56 candidate Ali Hasan was conspicuously absent, instead allowing his family to represent for him while he worked parades in Summit County and a Lions Club event in Leadville – all of this on his birthday to boot. Guess the now 28-year-old Beaver Creek resident feels like he has Eagle County wrapped up over his Dem opponent, Christine Scanlan, who was spotted at the Vail parade.
Now on to my media notes. The general response on the streets of Vail regarding the new five-day-a-week Vail Mountaineer after a little more than two weeks has been a collective yawn. As editor of the last semi-daily to challenge the Vail Daily back in ’98, I recall we launched with a series on the rapidly changing new west that won a Colorado Press Award for best series.
The Mountaineer’s first issue was an ode to itself and its publisher, self-congratulating on the fact that they had the audacity to launch a new paper. Great, but if you want people to really take notice, start beating the Vail Daily on truly meaningful stories. Tying them every day on a couple of stories when they have so much more content won’t get the job done, guys.
Now on to the Denver dailies: It turns out the JOA in Denver’s eight-year-old unholy union between the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post doesn’t stand for Joint Operating Agreement after all. It stands for Just Outsource it All.
Rocky business columnist David Milstead July 1 made the case that it’s time to end the combined-business-operation-but-separate-editorial-staff experiment and admit Denver is a now one-major-metro town. He argued that his paper’s paid circulation is stronger than the Post’s but that the Post is the better online brand.
“The two companies could bet it all on one of the brands. Or, oddly enough, the two partners' best position for the future might be a newspaper called the Rocky Mountain News and a Web site called The Denver Post. The best cost position would be to staff them with one, but not both, of the newsrooms,” Milstead wrote on rockymountainnews.com.
But there was a third option he didn’t consider. With Rocky owner E.W. Scripps, Post owner MediaNews Group and other chains like McClatchy slashing staff like mad in recent years, expect some of those jobs to go overseas.
National Public Radio Wednesday interviewed Robert Berkeley, CEO of Express KCS, a company with 450 “operators” just outside of New Delhi that provides mostly newspaper production and design but some editing and writing as well.
Berkeley explained in the NPR story on npr.org that publications that outsource reporting, including online news sites like Pasadena Now, which was widely criticized for the practice last year, are just trying to survive. “If newspapers don’t cut staff, they will lose all of their staff,” Berkeley said.
So call now, Denver City Council, operators are standing by to cover your next meeting. Could it happen here? Sure, if the Mountaineer winds up making a serious run at the VD, you could be getting your Vail news from New Delhi too.
Another sign of the demise of the Denver dailies? Mountain reporter Steve Lipsher recently took an editing job at the Summit Daily News in Frisco. The Denver metros for years have been outsourcing their state and regional coverage, but Lipsher lived up here and covered the mountain news like he cared.
If the Post is looking to replace him, which I doubt, they can just give Express KCS a call.
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