Identity crisis hits Summit Up – here’s how the column got its start
With what appears to be a bit of identity crisis for Summit Up going on right now, I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.
Originally, Summit Up was based on a popular Vail Daily column called “Town Talk,” which was a sort-of society column talking about who was seen where and mentioning birthdays and the like.
In the heady, early days of the Summit Daily, the column took on a much more urgent and silly persona, and readers were fortunate to have some extremely talented and silly people writing it – Curtis Robinson, M. John Fayhee, Randy Wyrick and Mike Kirschbaum.
Such was the appeal that, for a number of years, Summit Up was a primary reason for locals to read the paper, and as one of the writers to pick up the baton from that original crew, I felt I had an obligation to continue the tradition as best I could. It was a silly, largely meaningless thing, but people liked it and, well, someone had to do it.
As may well be imagined, trying to be funny every single day is no easy task. For some, having to write Summit Up could be a terrible burden rather than an enjoyable enterprise, and clearly the column would suffer in the hands of the disinclined. It was helpful to have on staff at least two, if not three or more people capable of cranking out a decent SU, because even the best could be burned out quickly if compelled to do it every day.
When I recently logged onto the Web site and saw a column that looked like an assemblage of news briefs rather than good ol’ Summit Up, I thought at first it was simply a mistake by the Web folks.
When I discovered otherwise, I was saddened, but also understanding, since I know SU can be, ahem, a cruel mistress.
Today, Summit Up has at least two writers capable of cranking out a fun column, so there should be no reason it cannot continue as it always had. What the column does apparently lack is commitment from the editor to make it something of a priority.
I disagree with the approach of having it be funny one day, boring the next. That’s not Summit Up. Do it or don’t do it, but if you do it, do it right. Each column need not be completely original – it can be supplemented with jokes and other stuff from the Internet, with fun photos, reader submissions, etc. I always found contests were great for filler.
Tell readers they’ll get a T-shirt or a free dinner if they write a funny haiku about tourists and you’ll have plenty to fill a few columns. It just takes a little thought and planning; the column cannot exist as afterthought.
With so many other more important things going on in the world, it may seem ridiculous to fret much about a silly little column in a little newspaper, but to me SU is as cool a small-town fixture as, say, the Moose Jaw or Ullr Fest. No matter what else is going on, there’s always room for a laugh, as well as a little place where you can jump on the beds, swim immediately after eating and mix metaphors like a banshee. Don’t let it die now.
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