What kind of newspaper can readers expect from an outspoken Kentucky-bred economics graduate who quit a secure job as a park ranger to make it in art? Something eclectic? Eccentric, perhaps?
Only Jim Stiles knows.He's the guy who put out a postcard-size flier last week proclaiming himself editor and publisher of a new newspaper for Moab, the "Canyon Country Zephyr."
With the announcement came a promise: Content that would give meaning to the saying, "It's never dull in Moab."
Why Stiles is making the move now, when there are already two other newspapers in town and slim pickings in advertising dollars, is a matter of philosophy.
"No one is ever wildly successful or a miserable failure without taking a chance," he said.
Besides, Stiles has ink in his blood.
He came West with a Kentucky upbringing and a degree in economics and was smitten in 1975 by the red rocks, spacious skies and diversity of people in Moab, about which he still waxes poetic.
After 11 years as a park ranger for the National Park Service, Stiles left government to develop his art. But he kept a keen eye on local antics of the federal bureaucracy and readily dispensed criticism if something seemed questionable.
"I got my feet wet writing antagonistic letters to the editor," he said.
Then came his first real newspaper job - aside from editing a fourth-grade news sheet. "The Stinking Desert Gazette," Moab's satire-laden "alternative newspaper," named Stiles chief illustrator and ad man, also benefiting from voluminous copy he wrote over the course of a year.
Other publications began soliciting his articles and illustrations, and a few weeks ago, Stiles struck out on his own again.
"Right after I left the Gazette, this thing (the Zephyr) just popped into my head. All my life I'd never thought of just running it myself," he said.
"It's something I wanted to do, and something that needed to be done."
Whether Moab needs another newspaper is a subjective question that Stiles refused to explore. He chose instead to stress that the intent of the Zephyr is not to compete with existing media but to add coverage and encourage more local dialogue in print.
"Only by an exchange of ideas and information does anyone ever learn anything," is his philosophy.
"We're not here to cater to one constituency or anger and provoke another, but we would like to stimulate intelligent discussion," he said.
"Zephyr, in Webster's dictionary, is any warm, western breeze," he said.
"As it applies to this paper, the definition may vary. To some it may represent a breath of fresh air; to others, a lot of hot air. I hope that at one time or another, everyone will reach both conclusions."
The Zephyr will offer the traditional menu - news, opinion, information and entertainment - but in a format and from perspectives unexplored by existing media, Stiles said.
In a sneak preview this week, he revealed plans for monthly inquisitions of public leaders, a page devoted to public lands watchdogging, two-page photo spreads and other artistic essays, in-depth people pieces, historical accounts along with timely news copy, first-person columns and more - including, of course, the editorial page.
The editor-publisher said he intends to handle advertising and circulation himself. Copy will come from a stable of local writers Stiles has rounded up, including "legendary river-runner and soft-spoken conservationist" Ken Sleight, who will debut as a columnist in Stiles's paper.
Sleight runs a bookstore and outfits horse pack trips out of his ranch at Pack Creek south of Moab.
The first issue will also feature greetings from well-known author and "controversial curmudgeon" Edward Abbey, Stiles said.