Eli Pace named next editor of Steamboat Pilot & Today

Dylan Anderson
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Eli Pace
Courtesy Photo

Eli Pace, editor at Sky-Hi News in Grand County, has been named the next editor of Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Pace will draw on more than 19 years of experience as a reporter, editor and copy editor as he replaces current Editor Lisa Schlichtman, who is leaving the newspaper after more than eight years as its editor.

When counting high school journalism, Pace said his experience is closer to 24 years.

“I have always just kind of been on a singular track for journalism, and I’ve never really wanted to do anything else,” Pace said. “To me, it’s the closest thing that I can get to (being) a career student. I like to learn, I like to be doing different things every day, and I’ve found it incredibly challenging.”

Pace will start in the role Wednesday.

“His wealth of experience working in a wide variety of jobs at daily and community newspapers was impressive to our search committee,” said Logan Molen, publisher of Pilot & Today. “He has a track record of delivering excellent journalism and showing good news judgment and strong ethics.”

Pace said he first got into journalism when some recruiters from the high school newspaper in Fort Morgan — where Pace grew up — came into his eighth-grade class. Before long, he was writing sports stories, and by graduation, he was the editor-in-chief.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Pace started as a sports reporter at the Greeley Tribune. After about four years, he headed east to begin a stretch of his career at newspapers in the South.

Pace started as a copy editor, designing print pages and handling other editing duties, and worked in several similar roles at newspapers in Tennessee until eventually taking a job as the managing editor of the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Pace said he was drawn to the South because his great uncle was a longtime publisher of the Tennessean in Nashville and helped foster his desire to be a journalist. Still, for Pace, the mountains have always been calling.

“It’s perfect for me,” Pace said. “I feel like I really had mountain envy through the early parts of my life, just staring at those mountains on the horizon.”

After leaving Kentucky, Pace said he only applied for one job and drove to an interview with the Summit Daily News in Frisco in a blizzard. There, he worked on both features and reporting before taking on his current role at Sky-Hi News in 2019.

Sky-Hi won 19 individual awards from the Colorado Press Association’s 2020 Better News Media Contest, making a clean sweep in each of the four general excellence designations among peer newspapers.

Pace said much of the focus has been on the paper’s award-winning coverage of the East Troublesome Fire, which burned across much of Grand County in October 2020, but it is the everyday work that makes that possible.

“If you do good work regularly on the day to day, then when the big stories happen, you’re in a good position to pursue those pieces,” Pace said. “I worry it might overshadow work that the community has really come to love and enjoy.”

The decision to move to Steamboat Springs and the Pilot & Today, a sister publication to Sky-Hi, was prompted by the opportunity to continue to grow, Pace said.

“It’s a little bit bigger of a market. It’s a daily newspaper. It checked all the boxes,” Pace said. “Steamboat is an absolutely beautiful, amazing place, and when I think about the opportunity to live there and be a part of that community, I am so excited.”

Both Molen and Pace said there are big shoes to fill as Schlichtman, who has been with the paper since July 2013, moves to Denver for a new role as editor in chief of Colorado Community Media.

“He’s familiar with the region and many of our issues and opportunities,” Molen said. “I’m confident Eli can carve his own path while building on (Schlichtman’s) legacy.”

Pace said he doesn’t believe you can be a local journalist unless you are extremely involved in the community, and people should expect to see him out and about around town — whether that be school sporting events, Steamboat Springs Chamber events or while he continues to work on his photography, a hobby developed out of a desire to learn, he said.

“My big plans are just to spend as much time as I can listening and learning about the newspaper and about the community and the kind of newspaper that the community wants to read,” Pace said. “You’re going to see me in Steamboat and in Routt County very frequently, and I’m very much looking forward to that.”

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