Vail Resorts CEO sets the record straight on Summit Daily column

10 December 2009

There has been quite a lot of attention about the recent column in the Denver Post and while I would generally not comment in this way, I feel since I am mentioned in it, it deserves some clarification.   Bob Berwyn, a reporter for the Summit Daily News wrote a column about ski resorts hyping snow.  The column referred to an executive at a ski resort company tweeting about snow from his home in Boulder, despite there being no snow in the mountains.  After reading the column, I immediately knew that he was referring to my personal tweet, since Dave Rossi, a Breckenridge Town Councilman, had previously tweeted the same sentiment about it.  I was disappointed in the column, particularly because we were not contacted for a comment and the column presented no evidence whatsoever that our company hyped snow- which is a serious accusation.  I called Bob and asked to speak off-the-record, which he agreed to.  I let him know that I was very disappointed with the column and his inclusion of my tweet - since my twitter account lists my home as Boulder and it was mid-October and none of our resorts were even open.  I relayed that I was excited to see the first snow of the season and was dumbfounded how he could use this as evidence of our company “hyping” snow.  I also called Jim Morgan, the publisher, to express my disappointment in the column, particularly that we were not contacted to comment.  At no time did I, or anyone else at Vail Resorts, threaten the Summit Daily to withhold advertising dollars or in any way ask or imply that Bob Berwyn be fired.  Jim expressed that he would look into it and get back to me with the background on the story.

A few days later, Dave Rossi tweeted about my call to Bob Berwyn and Jim Morgan and the substance of the calls.  This was very distressing to me as I felt like either Bob or Jim or both had broken a confidence and were now re-broadcasting our private conversation before we had even had a chance to talk further about the issue.  It was at that point that we decided to put a temporary hold on our advertising, until we could get a better understanding of what was happening.  We did not discuss this decision or the reasons behind it with the Summit Daily.  Our company advertises in numerous publications locally and around the world, many of whom publish articles we don’t like.  However, we expect the media companies we work with to have an appropriate channel to discuss the issues we might have with any part of the publication.  In this case, we didn’t have the opportunity to do this.  I cannot stress enough that our Company never threatened the Summit Daily in any way either about Bob Berwyn or about our advertising.  We made a business decision due to significant concerns with our business relationship.

Our company highly values our relationships with the media and fully respects the need for reporters to maintain objectivity and independence in their stories.  However, like anyone, we expect that we will be provided an opportunity to express our concerns and that they will be received with the utmost professionalism.  We understand that the media has the right and obligation to hold us accountable, but we also believe the media needs to be held accountable as well in how they treat the subjects of their stories.  

- Rob Katz, CEO and Chairman of Vail Resorts 

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