Mirror of the community

Durango Herald managers describe benefits of family-run newspaper on 60th anniversary

The Herald’s first board of directors is pictured in 1974, from left: Arthur, Helen, Richard, Bill, Elizabeth, and Morley Ballantine (seated.) Enlarge photo

The Herald’s first board of directors is pictured in 1974, from left: Arthur, Helen, Richard, Bill, Elizabeth, and Morley Ballantine (seated.)

This year marks the 60th year of the Ballantine family’s ownership of The Durango Herald, which was established in 1881. It’s one of the rare newspapers in the nation that has not been absorbed into a large media corporation.

Morley and Arthur Ballantine launched The Durango Herald-News on June 1, 1952. From the start, it was a true family enterprise, where the Ballantine children worked in various departments. Publisher Richard Ballantine listened to years of conversation around the family dinner table, stuffed sections and delivered missing newspapers. He has guided the Herald since 1983.

Below, two of the Herald’s current managers describe the value of the longtime family ownership in creating a vibrant newspaper with a unique voice that reflects the community.

Ken Amundson, General Manager: I consider myself extremely fortunate to have landed just a few months ago with Ballantine Communications Inc. For the past 38 years, I’ve had the good fortune to work almost exclusively for family-run companies. That was simply good luck at the start, but by design as my career unfolded.

Good newspapers breathe the air and drink the water that give life to communities. They reflect as perfectly as humanly possible the community served, both for readers and for advertisers. Without a personal stake in that community, like family-run newspapers have, the fit is at best forced and artificial. But when the publisher/owner walks down Main Avenue and hears first hand what readers and advertisers are saying, then a more perfect relationship results.

Paul Hay, Vice President of Newspaper Advertising: I recently joined the Ballantine’s Family, after working for a couple of large newspaper corporations, and I have to say nothing compares to the pleasure of working with such a great team here in the Four Corners area. This family rolls up their sleeves and joins their fellow workers. They don’t create or assign jobs they would be unwilling to perform themselves. They are approachable and responsive to all questions and suggestions. They put the interests of the team, the company, its clients and the mission ahead of their own.

If you look at the local culture, I think that neighbors, friends, family, that sense of community, is really one of the values that drives us. We choose to live here because of that strong sense of community, of working together to make our local communities better. One of the reasons I took this job is Ballantine’ Communications has that aspect – of being the hometown, family-owned newspaper – with a real sense of responsibility. It’s their obligation as a newspaper to work hand-in-hand with other businesses to create that sense of community.

In 60 years, the Herald’s masthead has been redesigned many times, from top to bottom: 1957, 1965, 1970, 1985, 1996, 2002 and 2011. Enlarge photo

In 60 years, the Herald’s masthead has been redesigned many times, from top to bottom: 1957, 1965, 1970, 1985, 1996, 2002 and 2011.

Morley and Arthur Ballantine gaze out over  Durango in a portrait in 1967. The image was taken for an award from the faculty of the School of Journalism at the   University of Colorado. Arthur died in 1975 and Morley died in 2009. Enlarge photo

Morley and Arthur Ballantine gaze out over Durango in a portrait in 1967. The image was taken for an award from the faculty of the School of Journalism at the University of Colorado. Arthur died in 1975 and Morley died in 2009.