Why Notions?

Since I became editor of the Crested Butte News 18 months ago, I’ve received much feedback on the work of two of our columnists, Denis Hall and John Norton. Both men have long histories in Crested Butte—Hall as a forthright environmentalist and former president of High Country Citizens’ Alliance and Norton as a former president and CEO of Crested Butte Mountain Resort and now a consultant for the ski company.
 Recently, members of the non-profit organization Friends of Snodgrass Mountain and others have expressed concern that Norton is given a large pulpit in the paper from which to preach about ski area expansion. For those who may not know, CBMR is proposing to expand lift-served skiing onto Snodgrass Mountain, which is located adjacent to Mt. Crested Butte. The company is preparing to submit its plans to the U.S. Forest Service, which caretakes the land.
Specifically, I’ve been told by at least one citizen that Norton should not be allowed to write about CBMR issues.
I answer this in two ways—one, Norton does not limit his column to Snodgrass or CBMR but hits on a gamut of issues. In the past 12 months, he’s written about Mt. Emmons, wildfires, and tourism and economics, amongst other topics.
Two, good columns are provocative and may represent beliefs that are different from those held by readers. There’s a reason talk radio is so popular. Columns have the power to challenge views and allow readers to clarify and hone their beliefs. (Good editorials can have the same effect.)
It’s true that Norton uses his column to forward CBMR’s argument for the development of Snodgrass Mountain. To be honest, I’m happy that we have CBMR’s view in the newspaper. I’d much rather have those thoughts out in public as fodder for discussion than confined to the company’s conference room and hidden from view. For those who disagree, there’s plenty of space in our pages for letters to the editor.
Similarly, I’m happy every week to provide the community with the views of a vivid environmentalist—someone who’s concerned about the health of our planet and more particularly, the potential effects of mining on Crested Butte. In the past 18 months, I’ve already received and published several letters that disagree with Hall.
In any given week, this newspaper can be (and often is) accused of being too leftist and in the pocket of environmentalists and a right-wing propaganda machine that only serves as the mouthpiece of business. That lands our editorial stance somewhere in the middle. It’s exactly where I think we should be and I think it’s reflective of our community as a whole.
In closing, I might not always agree with what these two gentlemen have to say but I always find it interesting. I hope readers do as well.

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