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.