A longtime local journalist’s lawsuit against The Aspen Times could have wider implications
A longtime local journalist’s lawsuit against The Aspen Times could have wider implications for the future of journalism and workers’ rights.
Andrew Travers filed the lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the newspaper and its parent companies wrongfully fired him on June 10, 2022, shortly after he accepted a promotion to the role of editor-in-chief.
Travers was let go after he published several columns written by Aspen resident Roger Marolt about the controversial Lift 1A property purchase at the base of Aspen Mountain by Soviet-born billionaire Vladislav Doronin.
The columns contained information that had previously been withheld, and included internal emails between The Aspen Times’ upper management. Travers said he consulted with the paper’s publisher before running the columns.
“I think it was the right decision for the newspaper to be transparent about the kinds of decision making that led to the suppression of news,” Travers said.
He also said it was a commitment to moving “forward with transparency.”
According to Travers, he had concerns about accepting the editor position after the paper withheld coverage of Doronin, but he accepted the offer after receiving assurance from The Aspen Times’ owner, Ogden Newspapers, that he would have full editorial independence.
The wrongful termination lawsuit seeks money and other compensation, including reinstatement of employment.
But for Travers, the lawsuit is about more than his individual rights.
“Newspaper owners who are abandoning the basic principles of journalism and abandoning their public service, abandoning their duty to report what's happening in these communities, that matters,” he said. “The Aspen Times, along with violating my legal rights, violated the public trust and they abandoned their journalistic duties.”
Travers’ lawsuit was filed against The Aspen Times, Ogden Newspapers and Swift Communications Inc.
Ogden bought Swift and a collection of its newspapers, including The Times, in late 2021.
The Aspen Times’ publisher Allison Pattillo and Scott Stanford, group publisher for Swift’s newspapers in Colorado and Utah, are both mentioned extensively in the lawsuit.
In an email, Pattillo told Aspen Public Radio on Wednesday that she had “not yet seen the lawsuit” and had “no comment.” She did not respond to a follow-up request to put Aspen Public Radio in touch with management at Ogden.
Aspen Public Radio has not heard back directly from The Aspen Times’ parent companies, but Stanford told the Aspen Daily News he had no comment on the suit.