Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vail Daily's attempt to hire rival backfires

Two years ago, the most senior news writer in Colorado's Vail Valley, Randy Wyrick, was fired by the Vail Daily newspaper and ended up becoming a truck driver.

When the Vail Mountaineer started last year, one of its first hires was Wyrick.

Now, according to the Mountaineer, the Vail Daily's editor and publisher, Don Rogers, has offered Wyrick a job.

"Evidently, Mr. Wyrick is only now an attractive hire once he became a key employee of the Mountaineer," the Mountaineer's attorney, Todd I. Freeman, wrote in a cease-and-desist letter to the Vail Daily.

In the letter, which the Mountaineer gleefully printed on its front page July 17, Freeman says the Vail Daily has tried to lure away other Mountaineer employees including its senior salesman.

The Vail Daily hasn't commented on the letter.

The letter is the most recent in a series of skirmishes between the free newspapers that began when the Mountaineer began printing 13 months ago. Mountaineer owner Jim Pavelich started the Vail Daily in 1984 and sold it in 1993 to the Reno, Nev.-based Swift Newspapers chain. He launched the Mountaineer because he was disgusted at his old paper's negative tone, which he said conveyed the idea that its writers hated living in Vail.

In the past year, the papers have battled over whether the Mountaineer can distribute at Starbucks (apparently the Vail Daily has an exclusive deal) and over deals the Vail Daily allegedly made that gave low rates to advertisers who promised not to buy space in the Mountaineer. In other words, it's an old fashioned newspaper war in one of the nation's last two-newspaper towns.