The annual Colorado Press Affiliation awards ceremony is normally a feel-good affair for the state’s newspapers, a recognition of the standard journalism popping out of publications of all sizes, from the Entrance Vary to the 4 Corners.
Usually the occasion and the affiliation’s annual conference is an event for back-patting and journalistic satisfaction. It’s an opportunity for the affiliation’s 150 information retailers to have fun one of the best reporting, writing, photographs and design of the earlier 12 months. It wouldn’t sometimes be the venue to focus on a historic newspaper’s destruction.
However that’s precisely what’s unintentionally on faucet for the awards ceremony tonight at Coors Subject, the place the Aspen Times is because of win 9 awards for 5 journalists. Not one of the 5 are working on the Instances right this moment. All of us have been compelled to resign on precept, or fired, since West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers purchased the Instances in January together with the remainder of Swift Communications’ papers in Colorado, Utah and California.
The ghost ship Aspen Instances is at present down to 1 working full-time reporter.
The award-winning Instances staffers have been notified that we’d received one thing from the press affiliation again in Might (they don’t reveal what piece of labor or what class till the general public ceremony).
Phrase got here throughout a very tumultuous interval on the paper. The anticipated disruption from the possession change had devolved right into a disturbing new section of company censorship. The editorial staff was beneath orders from Ogden to not write a couple of controversial growth on Aspen Mountain on the heels of Soviet-born billionaire developer Vladislav Doronin suing the paper for its protection of him. Doronin two months earlier purchased an acre of land earmarked for the divisive Gorsuch Haus ski base space growth, buying it from Jeff Gorsuch and his companions for $76 million. Gorsuch had paid $10 million for it lower than eight months earlier.
The day we acquired phrase we’d received prizes, the Instances editorial staff had a contentious newsroom “city corridor” assembly with two Ogden representatives who got here to Aspen to debate the muzzling of protection. Phrase of the awards earlier than the assembly supplied a fleeting second of satisfaction amid a lot degradation beneath Ogden.
Instances Editor David Krause (right this moment a staff editor at The Colorado Solar) had already resigned and was a weekend away from his final day. Proficient photographer Kelsey Brunner, the paper’s lone workers photographer, would quickly put in her discover, too. I used to be employed to switch Krause — after which fired in June for publishing an opinion about Ogden spiking columns associated to Doronin. Veteran reporter Scott Condon, who had been writing for the Instances for 35 years, resigned in late June and took his huge expertise to the rival Aspen Daily News. The hard-working younger reporter and meals columnist Kaya Williams left quickly thereafter; she lately took a put up at Aspen Public Radio.
Our names will probably be on the awards from the Colorado Press Affiliation on Saturday, however aren’t on the Instances masthead.
I don’t know what Ogden-paid functionary is perhaps on the ceremony right this moment to say the award certificates, or in the event that they’ll trouble to point out up in any respect. I received’t be there, however I hope the discomfiting recognition of the Instances’ good pre-Ogden work will present a second for the state corps of journalists assembled on the banquet to acknowledge what’s been misplaced right here and the fragility of native information establishments.
And, extra importantly for the general public, I hope it’d function a catalyst for motion to search out new fashions or higher house owners for the papers telling the story of Colorado communities and holding the highly effective accountable.
This would be the final Colorado Press Affiliation awards masking the pre-Ogden media panorama in Colorado.
The decimation of the Aspen Instances newsroom was dramatic and unusual and have become very public this summer time after my firing. Much less public have been struggles of journalists on the 10 different Colorado newspapers purchased by Ogden throughout ski nation and the Western Slope.
They could not have had their reporting silenced by Ogden to appease a billionaire developer, as we did on the Instances. And so they might not have invited nationwide press protection of the fallout, as we did. However their communities are nonetheless dropping out because the papers have undergone reporter and editor turnover and attrition for the reason that Ogden takeover, as they’ve given up their workforce housing and put together to go away their newsroom buildings (Ogden didn’t purchase them after they bought these newspaper companies).
With out reporters on the native beat, readers and the general public curiosity can’t be adequately served. So tonight, let the Colorado media toast what that they had in 2021 — after which let’s get again to work on discovering a means ahead for native information.
Andrew Travers, of Aspen, is a journalist and former Aspen Instances editor.
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