Andrew Travers, my editor at The Aspen Times since the principled resignation of David Krause a few weeks ago, was fired last Friday for publishing previously banned columns I wrote. They contained truth, locally important information, and the revelation of issues our community would have been otherwise unaware of.
This was supposed to be my last column for The Aspen Times, but now is my first for the Aspen Daily News. It depended on how delicately I crafted this piece; if I stayed between the company lines in giving the reason for my departure, the new owners of The Aspen Times might have allowed me to say goodbye in their paper last Friday. Alas, it’s three spikes and I’m out. I went down looking, released on waivers to the Aspen Daily News.
“Spike” is the term used when a news story or column doesn’t get published. In May, I had back-to-back weekly columns spiked — not by my editors in the newsroom, but by the suits at The Aspen Times’ new parent company in West Virginia, who feared a lawsuit.
The first column pointed out that the new owner of the Gorsuch Haus site at Lift 1A was unnervingly rude for not stepping up and assuring the town of his plans to go along with the development plans approved by voters. The second was about his big money coming to Aspen and silencing our small-town press through litigation threats, gagging The Aspen Times with questionable claims. We were assured by the executives in West Virginia that the columns would run “eventually”, after the litigation was settled.
The litigation was settled. Andrew ran the columns. He got fired. Everyone else got mad. Intimidation seeped into the newsroom.
There is enough to this story for an upper-level, four-credit journalism school case study to consider over the span of an entire semester. There are ample opportunities for teaching moments and a long list of discussion points. However, rather than recognizing these options, the executives at corporate headquarters determined it was simply better (easier) to fire Travers, a seasoned and talented journalist.
I believe the crux of this controversy boiled down to weighing the universal omerta of keeping interoffice conversations private versus the obligation of newspapers to report honestly on important issues, even if it means disclosing interoffice conversations to do so. Which is the higher law?
My column launched these conflicting objectives on a trajectory of imminent collision. I linked both of the spiked columns chronologically with e-mail discussions about them with my immediate superiors in the Aspen Times newsroom. The story in that format was compelling, revealing and, if I do say so myself, a damn good read. Corporate headquarters disagreed. The columns went live and within 24 hours, the link was deleted and the story went dark.
Even from a purely business standpoint, I don’t see how this made sense. The story was gaining major traction in readership interest and, even though it did not shed the paper in the most favorable light, it wasn’t a hatchet-job attack, either. What the executives missed, in my opinion, is that this was a real-time example of the meaningful work The Aspen Times has a long history of doing that made it an attractive acquisition in the first place.
Above all, the firing of Andrew Travers is the thing I can’t get over. Written words are powerful, even more so when they are disseminated in the public domain. When you deal with them regularly in this arena, it is easy to get complacent. In the heat of battle, there is temptation to use them to exact vengeance, establish authority, even to punish. I can assure you, in talking with Andrew and examining my own conscience, none of this motivated writing and publishing the controversial material that has led to this point. We felt passionately that this was important news that Aspen had to be made aware of. We were backed by contemporaries. It spoke directly to the feeling of intensely accelerating loss of community to big, outside money. It revealed a threat to the degradation of a cherished Aspen institution that is our newspapers.
In the end, it was Andrew’s call to publish. But, they were my words he courageously stood up for. That weighs heavily. I am humbled, honored and grateful. It is not lost on me that my resignation from The Aspen Times is a pittance of recompense for putting his livelihood, career and a passion in jeopardy. I hope knowing the gesture comes directly from my heart makes it worth something. I know his fearless act towards preserving a free press does.
Roger Marolt wonders if the new owners of The Aspen Times see more value in the name on the front page than they do in the people in the newsroom that made the name worth something. email@example.com
Creem Magazine, which covered rock ‘n’ roll from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, is returning: first as a digital magazine with full archives, then in the fall as a quarterly print publication.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
After 33 years, Creem is coming back. That’s Creem, the music publication, which calls itself America’s only rock ‘n’ roll magazine. After fits and starts, Creem is returning as a digital magazine, and in the fall, it’ll be a quarterly in print. NPR’s Danny Hensel has the story of a Detroit institution.
early morning disciples
discípulos de la madrugada
para el primer café con leche
más desperados visitan Rancho desperado
Gabriel Boric promises sweeping social change. In a nation of duelling political extremes, he’ll need to sell his vision not just to his opponents but also to his allies.
June 6, 2022
February in Santiago, the capital of Chile, is like August in Paris: the end of summer, when everyone who can afford a vacation escapes for a last gasp of freedom. Many santiaguinosgo to the nearby Pacific beaches, or to the chilly lakes in the south. After two months of frenetic activity that followed the election of December 19th, Gabriel Boric, the country’s President-elect, was also planning to take a break
At a back-yard barbecue, a few weeks before his inauguration, Boric explained that he and his partner were heading to the Juan Fernández archipelago, four hundred miles off the coast. Their destination was the island where the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned in the eighteenth century, helping inspire Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” Boric planned to swim and fish, and also to read through a pile of books: the Defoe classic, biographies of Chilean Presidents, a history of Eastern Europe by Timothy Snyder. He felt that he had some catching up to do on geopolitics, since he was already being courted by superpowers.
After Boric’s victory, President Joe Biden had called to offer congratulations, and to invite him to a summit of hemispheric leaders in Los Angeles. Chile, with its four thousand miles of coastline, is a tactical outpost in Latin America—a region where Biden has been trying, intermittently, to increase his outreach. The trip would be complicated for Boric; he had won office at the head of a left-wing coalition that included Chile’s Communist Party, which tends to regard the United States as an imperialist aggressor. But, he told me, the summit wasn’t for several months, and “Biden said I didn’t have to decide right away.”
The Chinese Embassy had hand-delivered a letter from Xi Jinping, in which he courteously reminded Boric that the People’s Republic of China was Chile’s biggest trading partner. Chile is the world’s largest producer of copper and its second-largest of lithium; China’s supply of batteries and cell phones depends on the trade.
Boric had also heard that Vladimir Putin was considering a visit to Argentina, and wondered if he’d want to add Chile to his itinerary. He grimaced as he thought about it. Some on Chile’s hard left see Russia as an ally against American “hegemony,” but Boric didn’t want Putin in his country.
Boric is thirty-six—a year older than the minimum age for a Chilean President—with a stocky build, a round, bearded face, and a mop of brown hair. He described these developments with an air of thrilled complicity; they were among the most important moments of his life so far. He was not yet officially President, but he had been given a car and bodyguards, and was briefed daily by the outgoing administration. He had declared that his government would be feminist, and that his cabinet, in a first for Latin America, would be predominately female; fourteen out of twenty-four ministers would be women, including the secretaries of defense and the interior. Two ministers were openly gay. Many of Boric’s officials were young leftists, like himself.
His partner, Irina Karamanos, also represented a break with the past. A thirty-two-year-old of Greek and German descent, she speaks five languages, has degrees in anthropology and education, and is regarded as a leader in feminist politics. She had already managed to pique some Chileans by declaring that she would “reformulate” the role of First Lady, because she was “neither first nor a lady.”
Boric’s opponent in the election was José Antonio Kast, an ultraconservative Catholic with nine children. An admirer of Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro, Kast had promised a pro-business, law-and-order government that would keep out unwanted immigrants and oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. He was the son of an officer in Hitler’s Wehrmacht who had immigrated to Chile after the war and built a fortune selling Bavarian-style meats. Echoing Donald Trump, Kast urged voters to “dare to make Chile a great country.”
In the end, Boric beat Kast by twelve percentage points, garnering the largest number of votes ever cast for a candidate in Chile. He represented the most left-wing government since the ill-fated Presidency of Salvador Allende, a socialist who won power in 1970, only to be overthrown three years later in a bloody military coup, after which General Augusto Pinochet ruled as a right-wing dictator for seventeen years.
Even Georgia O’Keeffe
at this American Beauty
In a posthumous essay collection, Lopez asks readers “not to give in to the temptation to despair.”
By Ben Ehrenreich
- Published May 31, 2022
EMBRACE FEARLESSLY THE BURNING WORLD: Essays, at the NYT
by Barry Lopez
Please, in the spirit of Barry Lopez, please post in your Re’por, this opportunity to comment on the EPA determination to uphold the Clean Water Act and protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine: