As newspapers continue to scale back their operations and their budgets, we in the West have become much more dependent on online news sources, blogs and other "Web 2.0" tools in order to stay informed.
Unfortunately, newspapers, which were once poised to rule the online flow of credible information, were slow to react to the rapidly changing and ever-evolving digital climate--they've sadly become dinosaurs, and they are quite literally on the verge of extinction. It's distressing.
And, even more distressing, is the latest news out of Summit County, Colo., where regarded environmental reporter Bob Berwyn was recently canned from the Summit Daily, apparently because he had the stones to challenge a large ski resort operator in Vail when it came to accurately reporting actual snowfall. The newspaper, in what looks like an effort to appease an advertiser, summarily dumped the writer on his ass. And, according to Berwyn, the paper offered him $3,000 not to discuss his termination, an offer he brazenly refused. Clearly, advertisers are more important than readers in Summit County, and that's a shame.
Coming from a newspaper background, this sadly doesn't surprise me--I endured a similar situation a few years back, only my nemasis turned out to be car dealers. Five months after my run-in with the car dealership cadre as editor of a daily newspaper here in Idaho, I escaped and found a job focusing on one of true passions, much to my relief. Berwyn wasn't so lucky--he was simply fired.
But Bob's not giving up his journlistic roots, and he's evolving a bit faster than his former employer--he's started a new web-based news magazine, Summit County Citizens Voice, that already shows promise. His idea is to run the site as a non-profit in hopes of providing good, solid journalism without the corporate influence (this idea has been floated for newspapers, as well). We'd like to see him take the site to the next level, and perhaps expand beyond the Summit County sphere of influence. The Southern Rockies could use a high-quality, free-from-influence news source that isn't afraid to push the journalistic boundaries in which newspapers now find themselves.
Bob's project shows promise, and we wish him the best of luck. Please check out his new site and, if you're able, send a donation his way. Losing his voice in the Rockies would be a tragedy.