From the publisher: Pilot & Today to host new events, new website to quality local content and expanded digital reach
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You may have read recently about the Pilot & Today taking over management of the long-running Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. We’re thrilled the Steamboat Springs Chamber has entrusted us with management of this iconic event and are looking forward to making a great event even better.
With that in mind, we have a few changes in the works as we plan the 38th annual event:
• Renaming the event the Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Festival. While we are removing “Rodeo” from the event name, we will continue to hold balloon-pilot “rodeo” competitions that include balloon basket dips into beautiful Bald Eagle Lake.
• Moving the Night Glow event Saturday to Howelsen Hill, where summer wind patterns offer greater chances the balloons can inflate at sundown. Mount Werner, where the Night Glow had been held in recent years, offers a terrific setting, but summer winds have prevented balloons from inflating more often than not.
• Moving the Night Glow to Howelsen creates opportunities to offer a festival-type atmosphere that will include live music, a wide variety of kids’ activities, food and drink vendors and merchandise booths.
This year’s festival is July 13 and 14, so be sure to mark those dates on your calendar and invite your out-of-town friends for a fun weekend that will include Art in the Park, the Farmers Market and the Steamboat Pro Rodeo Series.
We’re hard at work planning the event and will soon launch a Balloon Festival website and newsletter to publicize those details to out-of-market visitors. If you’re interested in being an event sponsor or vendor, please contact me at email@example.com or 970-871-4224.
New website coming
In about a month, we will launch a redesign of SteamboatPilot.com that is optimized to serve our rapidly diversifying digital audience. The new site will continue to work just fine on your desktop or laptop computer but will be optimized for readers using mobile devices.
That change will help us build on our unmatched media reach in Steamboat and Routt County, which continues to grow into 2019. Traffic to SteamboatPilot.com, our mobile app and the replica e-edition of Pilot & Today newspaper topped 1.6 million page views in January, continuing strong growth throughout the last half of 2018.
That digital reach is a powerful complement to the Pilot & Today printed newspaper — which reaches 80 percent of local residents weekly and 91 percent monthly — and our growing @SteamboatPilot presence on Facebook and Instagram. We’re thrilled you’re consuming our content on a variety of platforms and supporting our many wonderful advertisers who believe in locally produced, professional journalism.
Our news staff rocks
I was talking earlier this month with an advertiser who commented that the paper seemed to be a little thinner on some days. It’s true we’re being smart about our newsprint usage. That’s because our paper prices have risen 30 percent year over year.
But we’re not skimping on content. Over a recent 31-day period this year, here’s what we published in just the printed newspaper (not including other content we post online):
• 264 staff-written articles, briefs or editorials
• 31 daily calendars highlighting local events
• More than 100 local photos, not including reader-submitted images published in our Steamboat Snaps and Share features
• 18 columns written by local contributors
• 21 articles from sister newspapers in Colorado Mountain News Media. Of those, eight featured Steamboat athletes; the balance were snow-related topics like the ski industry and avalanches
• 54 Associated Press articles, about half of which were sports related
If we can save a few pages here and there to control our costs and maintain a free daily newspaper, we’re going to do it. But the numbers above speak to our ongoing commitment to strong community journalism and the popularity among readers who appreciate it.
New Pilot & Today staffers
I’m excited to welcome three talented staffers to the Pilot & Today in February, two of them returning after a few years away.
• Julia Ben-Asher is our new arts and entertainment reporter, returning to the Pilot & Today after a few years of teaching at the Mountain Village Montessori Charter School in Steamboat. She previously worked at Pilot & Today as a copy editor and page designer from 2015 to 2016.
• Jeff Oamek started Thursday as a multimedia account manager. He brings extensive small-business sales experience in the banking and financial services sector.
• Former Pilot & Today advertising executive Lori Griepentrog is rejoining our staff this week as a multimedia account manager. She worked at Pilot & Today in a number of roles from 2013 to 2017, and most recently, was sales and marketing manager for a Colorado digital marketing agency.
New editorial board community members
I’m also excited to welcome two new community members to the Pilot & Today editorial board:
• Steve Hofman, a consultant with deep experience in politics, business and strategic consulting. That work includes stints as Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush and consulting work with The Washington Post. Locally, he serves on boards for the Steamboat Institute and Seminars at Steamboat.
• Robin Stone, a businesswoman and longtime community servant with extensive experience serving on local boards.
Both will serve four-month terms, providing important outside perspective to the editorial board, which includes Editor Lisa Schlichtman and myself. Hofman and Stone replace Mike Burns and Melissa Hampton, who did a terrific job contributing to our weekly editorials from September to January.
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