Longtime Steamboat Springs resident and veteran Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross was as excited as I've ever seen him Friday morning. Like other members of Routt County's dedicated Nordic skiing community, Ross was glued to his computer, watching the results from the first Nordic combined event of the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
When Todd Lodwick's historic win became official, it was clear to me that Ross would write the story and that the story would take the cover of Saturday's Steamboat Today. Lodwick's gold-medal performance had all the right elements for a front-page story: A celebrated athlete who retired after a disappointing performance in the 2006 Winter Olympics, announced his return to the sport two years later and finally broke through his big-event slump by winning gold on the biggest stage in Nordic skiing. Lodwick also graced the front page Monday after winning his second gold of the world championships.
But front-page decisions aren't always so easy.
Today's newspaper is a good example. Reporter Blythe Terrell, acting on a tip from a reader, tracked down a great story about local ski patroller Paula Lepporoli, who chanced upon a snowboarder buried in a tree well Saturday and dug him out in time to save his life. Fate, chance, coincidence, luck - whatever you want to call it - intervened that day on the mountain, and the unidentified snowboarder was able to return home to Denver to be with his wife and 3-year-old son instead of the very grim - and likely - outcome had Lepporoli not seen something amiss out of the corner of her eye.
City editor Mike Lawrence and I planned to run that story on today's cover - until news broke that a break-in at the Steamboat Springs School District's central office may have compromised the Social Security numbers of 1,300 past and present school employees. District officials and police investigators are yet to determine the extent of the breach or whether the thief or thieves have been able to access the information on Finance Director Dale Mellor's laptop. But the growing threat of identity theft and the havoc it can wreak on the lives of those affected can't be overstated.
Given the scope of the potential impact of the break-in to many of our readers and the timeliness of the news - the break-in occurred sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning - Lawrence and I opted to put that story out front.
Was it the right decision? I'll let each of you be the judge. It's worth noting that we discuss and debate the front-page story on an almost daily basis. Balancing the stories our readers might be most interested in with the stories we think are most important to the community is a constant talking point in those discussions. So is giving consideration to the "feel-good" story. The front pages of newspaper shouldn't always be government coverage or state-of-the-economy reminders. Stories such as that of Todd Lodwick deserve a shot at the front, too.
Let me know what you think about the front page of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 970-871-4221.