Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rapid turnover in publishers in Vail, Colo.

It's not often that a newspaper goes through two publishers in one month. But that's what happened this month at the Vail Daily.

Steve Gall, who had headed the paper for 19 months, resigned "to pursue other opportunities," the Vail Daily announced on Dec. 4.

He was replaced by Steve Pope, who was the paper's publisher in 2005 and early 2006 before he was promoted to a regional management job with parent company Swift Newspapers. Then on Tuesday, Pope gave notice so he could take the publisher's job at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Pope's move to the Colorado Springs' paper is a bit of a head-scratcher because the publisher's slot has been open since August. Why take the Vail job only to quit two weeks later and take the Colorado Springs job instead? Why not take the Colorado Springs job in early December and not bother with Vail?

The official line is that the Colorado Springs job is a big step up for Pope. But we hear that the Vail Daily isn't a fun place to work anymore compared to the first time he was publisher. The founder of the Vail Daily, Jim Pavelich, who sold the paper in the early 1990s to Swift, has started a new paper, the Vail Mountaineer, which is taking away business from the Daily. The Vail Daily has responded by offering advertisers steep discounts — as much as 90 percent — if they agree not to advertise in the new paper. But the strategy may backfire because Swift loses money on the discounted rates.

By the way, at the Gazette Pope will succeed Scott McKibben, who was the publisher of the San Francisco Examiner when it was purchased by billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz.