The Durango Herald earned 71 awards in 2011 from the Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Associated Press Editors and Reporters with first places for editorial writing, series, photography and others. It also earned the CAPER General Excellence award as “the state’s best small newspaper.” These awards are given by professionals in journalism, and it’s time for naysayers to realize what a fantastic resource the Herald is.
One old chestnut is particularly bothersome for its inaccuracy – that the Herald presupposes a liberal bias in its reporting and choice of columnists. The facts: the Herald does offer New York Times columnists, especially David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof, who balance the conservative-liberal broadside. For every Kathleen Parker column, there’s one by Froma Harrop. For every Ruben Navarrette, a Maureen Dowd; every Robert Samuelson, a Dana Milbank. These intelligent columnists speak to varied issues and rarely take a unilateral point of view on an issue as truly ideological columnists do.
Is the legal slavery in Sudan and the sex slavery of children around the world that Kristof reports on solely a red or blue issue? Are Brooks’ questions about America’s ethical, political, and educational challenges ones that interest only readers on the right or the left?
Previous “hometown papers” smeared grisly details of the sexual abuse of infants across their front page, with no attempt at being informative or educational in any honest way. The Herald’s willingness to pay the large sums that a varied, syndicated cadre of columnists costs is invaluable. As an educator, I often use items from the Herald or file them for future use, and I don’t file them under “liberal” or “conservative.” Wistfully, some of those items remain teachable moments about how to use and where to place an apostrophe properly, but the lasting lessons are about living in a free country where different and even disparate ideas are allowed to be printed, discussed, agreed with or repudiated, and responded to – all without fear of reprisal and with impunity.
Newspapers are enduring hallmarks of democracy, and The Durango Herald continues to be a fine example of this principle in action.