Two friends who have spent countless hours brainstorming ways to make life better in Moab coincidentally launched separate business careers in the media this winter.
"It is interesting," observed Jim Stiles, who announced plans to start a new newspaper this spring. "It's not like we discussed it and had a master plan."Stiles, 39, proclaimed on postcard-size fliers this month that he will be editing and publishing a monthly news tabloid beginning in March, featuring writings from such notables as author Edward Abbey. (See related story.)
The newspaper will join another monthly and the weekly Moab Times-Independent in local coverage.
Last month, Stiles's friend Jim Mattingly, 41, took charge of and began expanding local community television news and programming, under contract with United Cable TV.
For Mattingly, TV offered an opportunity to combine a background in business management and marketing with visual talents and communications skills that had been given expression in videography, the restaurant business and politics.
Mattingly moved from Grand Junction, Colo. to Moab 30 years ago. When he became news and programming producer-director for Channel 6 on Dec. 5, it was a plunge into a whole new field of endeavor that seems to suit him.
"As far as camera work, I don't know what it is, but it works. I've got an eye with the video camera," he said.
Because of budget constraints, Mattingly basically is a one-man show. But he hopes to hire help eventually, and expects to be able to expand programming this spring.
He started with a residential video production studio, approaching the cable company and long-time newscaster Dee Tranter after incorporating as Omni Productions.
Tranter held the cable contract for six years. After relinquishing that responsibility to Mattingly, Tranter agreed to stay on as anchorman only, leaving news gathering and production to the newcomer.
Mattingly also runs the camera and is his own advertising and program production departments.
Encouraged by good response from advertisers, he is directing renewed enthusiasm into a pet project he calls "Video Guide," which will be a series of visual pathfinders for tourists.
A major challenge meanwhile is to maintain what he perceives as a renewed local interest in the news, Mattingly said.
"I would like a bigger news show, because I think there's a need for it. People in Grand County want more news, more in-depth," he said.
"The Video Guide is going to expand because of the expanding tourist base," he added, "and I'm also working on another tourist-related video project."
Mattingly said this winter is a most auspicious time to attract viewers to increased news programming because of lingering interest spawned by a controversial election year that included a heated battle over a hazardous waste incinerator and county-level leadership.
The incinerator and politicians supporting it were booted out election day, but Mattingly believes people are still tuned in.
"The incinerator brought the people out, and for that reason it was a good thing. Now we have to keep that momentum up and take control of our future. That's why I want to to expand the news more - we've got to be informed," he said.