Bill Sniffin: Ten Years Normally Seems Like A Long Time, But 2012 To 2022 Was A Blur

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Ten years ago, right now, I was sitting in the Casper office of one of the two most generous men in Wyoming.

I was trying to convince the late Mick McMurry to pre-order several thousand copies of a coffee table book I was hoping to publish about Wyoming. Without the pre-sales, I felt the $100,000 project was out of my reach. 

My, have those 10 years zipped by quickly! Where truly does the time go? 

Back to my story:

In January 2012, I was getting into my golden years and planning a legacy project. It had been a long time since anyone had published a coffee table book about the state. And, as I found out later, it appeared nobody had really done a book of this magnitude on his or her own. Most were done by national companies or state agencies. 

Ten years ago, I felt, at the age of 65, my time might be running out. No longer could a person do just any old this or that – it was time to focus on some really important projects. 

At that advanced age, this could be a person’s last great effort. A legacy project, right? It was important to do something really consequential, hence, a coffee table book featuring “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” became my all-consuming passion.

With the help of the foundation established by Mick and his wife Susie, we did publish that volume and two more later, creating “The Wyoming Trilogy.” 

We sold 35,000 of those books, probably the largest sale ever of a series of this type. I am proud of that effort but it soon became obvious there were some other projects to come. 

In 2018, a second very generous man, the late Foster Friess of Jackson, asked me to join his team in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor. 

After running for governor in 2002, I had been asked many times to help with campaigns but always demurred. But this one? Heck yes.

I had gotten to known Foster some years before and this looked like the chance of lifetime to experience a world-class political campaign, right here in our own little Wyoming.

That campaign between May and August of 2018 was one of the busiest times of my life, but it was sure fun. Foster was a former billionaire (before he and Lynn gave away over $300 million to charities) and he was well connected in national GOP circles. For example, he had access to former President Donald Trump’s ad agency and the Koch brothers polling company.

Foster’s campaign finished second to now-Gov. Mark Gordon. It was time for me to move on to other projects.   

Five years ago, I heard a spectacular talk by Wyoming archeologist, the late George Frison, when he was over 90 years old. I told Nancy that I was immediately going to go home and write up a 20-year plan for myself.

And then two years ago this month, I was asked to be publisher of the Cowboy State Daily (CSD).   

Working with founders Annaliese Wiederspahn, Jimmy Orr, and founding funder Foster Friess has been a highlight of my recent professional life. 

I would argue that CSD has become among the leading sources of news in the state. More than 2,000 news stories were published in the past two years. Folks, that is a lot of news. And it was delivered by email free to more than 20,000 subscribers’ addresses each morning. 

When I started in the newspaper business at the age of 15 with a weekly newspaper in Elgin, Iowa, that newspaper used hot type, basically melting and molding lead to put words onto paper. Its method of printing was one generation removed from Gutenberg, who invented movable type and printing.  

So here I found myself, some 60 years later, as publisher of what we think is the leading digital news source in Wyoming and one of the most interesting digital sites in the Rocky Mountain West. What a news career. And it’s not over yet!

The special sauce for CSD is Orr, who is a former digital managing editor at the Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor. He knows this stuff! 

Nancy says be sure to mention our family added one grandchild, three great-grandchildren, two new grandsons-in-law, and one new granddaughter-in-law in the last 10 years. Everyone grew older and hopefully smarter. We all are optimistic going forward. 

So here I am in 2022 and reflecting on, wow, have those last 10 years passed by quickly or what!  

See you all in the future. It’s going to be great!

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