Former Vail Daily owner Pavelich shuts down Vail Mountaineer, Denver Daily News

By David O. Williams
Real AspenJune 8, 2011
Accused by a former business partner of being a “news wuss” and by one of his former editors of lacking “journalistic standards, ethics and principles,” Denver Daily News and Vail Mountaineer owner Jim Pavelich took the high road today in announcing he was shutting down both newspapers.

“I'd like to thank all the advertisers who supported us,” Pavelich told the Vail Daily, a paper Pavelich founded in 1981 and sold for millions 12 years later. “The staff worked unbelievably hard for three years.”

After his non-compete expired with the Vail Daily, he launched the rival Vail Mountaineer in 2008. Pavelich launched the Denver Daily News in 2001 and crowed about outlasting the more than 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News.
“The Denver Daily News has always represented the desire for free, independent journalism and media on an intensely local level,” Denver Daily News publisher Kristie Hannon told the Denver Business Journal. “Unfortunately, we simply could not keep up with the current financial pressures facing every small business in America.”

Pavelich pioneered the free daily paper in Colorado, focusing on lightly written business profiles and in later years espousing more conservative, pro-business principles. His former business partner, Aspen Daily News owner Dave Danfort, once unsuccessfully sued Pavelich in the 1990s for spiking news stories at their paper in Palo Alto, Calif.

“He's not going after any journalism awards, I can tell you that,” Danforth told the Colorado Independent. “Pavelich is a news wuss. He's afraid of hard news because he thinks it will piss off advertisers, so the way to compete with him is to publish hard news and let him prove that he can't or won't.”

Former Vail Mountaineer editor Stephen Lloyd Wood blasted Pavelich on his way out the door a few years back: “The owner of the Mountaineer and I reached a long-brewing impasse over the journalistic standards, ethics and principles of publishing a newspaper of integrity.”

In an ad post seeking Vail Mountaineer employees, Pavelich once made it clear what qualities he was looking for in his journalists: “Tenacity and strong leadership skills are needed. It would also be convenient if you can appreciate living in one of the world's finest resort communities. Some people don't.”

Pavelich is no fan of Internet publishing, frequently criticizing the Vail Daily for posting its content for free and asking advertisers in the print edition if they felt such practices took eyes off their hard-copy ads. Pavelich only posted a full pdf version of the Mountaineer online.

comments: 2 Comments on "Former Vail Daily owner Pavelich shuts down Vail Mountaineer, Denver Daily News"

Schlombulu – June 12, 2011, at 5:48 p.m.

It is not accurate to say Pavelich pioneered the concept. It is my understanding that his first partner John Van Housen came up with the idea and Dan Danforth was already printing a small free daily in Aspen when the Vail Daily was founded.

Pavelich went on to force out Van Housen from the Vail Daily and later in Palo Alto, California, got rid of Danforth, who actually came up with the idea for a paper there because he attended Sanford University. That case went all the way to court because Danforth refused to go quietly as Van Housen had.

Both Van Housen and Danforth are journalists, Pavelich is not. What Pavelich “pioneered” was a low-ball approach that was essentially a free shopper with some news thrown in. He liked to paint himself as the underdog, but that notion got little traction in recent times because the people of Vail know he is a multimillionaire.

The only business model he knew – which was not his own but Danforth’s and Van Housen’s – no longer worked in the Internet age, and instead of adapting, he excoriated the Internet. He was not a newspaper innovator at all, but an accountant who managed to leverage the talent of others.

ancien – June 13, 2011, at 5:14 a.m.

Anyone who knows Jim Pavelich knows he has always been obsessed with money. My take was that he saw a way to make good money with the Daily, then saw that cutting corners would make even more. When Van Housen and the rest that followed tried to maintain the ethics of real newspapers, Pavelich found ways to take total control himself.

I knew both of them -- and they were best friends at one time, but I think Pavelich loves a buck better than any friendship.

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