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Ballantine Communications CEO steps down after eight years

Family reaffirms commitment to serving Southwest Colorado

The CEO of Ballantine Communications Inc., which owns The Durango Herald, has stepped down after leading the company for eight years.

In a written statement to employees, the BCI Board of Directors commended Doug Bennett for his leadership over the family-owned newspaper and other communication enterprises as they moved further into the digital space.

“Over the past eight years, Doug’s knowledge, vision and contributions have been instrumental in taking BCI through some key transformations, and we thank him deeply for bringing his strengths to BCI,” the letter reads. “He has honed our focus and added efficiencies, while creating a digital presence that’s the envy of larger communication companies.”

Bennett provided a statement Friday night shortly after eating dinner at Chimayo with his wife, Kendra.

“I wish the company, employees and family well as they navigate the future for Ballantine,” Bennett wrote in a text message. “Kendra and I love living in Durango and we will continue to make this community our home.”

Carrie Cass, the company’s director of finance and administration, was named interim CEO.

In addition to owning the Herald, BCI Communications owns The Journal in Cortez, DGO, Directory Plus, Four Corners Expos and BCI Media. The Ballantine family, based in Durango, is entering its 70th year of ownership. Morley and Arthur Ballantine bought the Durango paper in 1952, and the Ballantine family said this week it is committed to maintaining and improving upon what it has built over the decades.

Richard Ballantine

In his letter to employees, Richard G. Ballantine, chairman of the board, said a search is underway for a CEO. In the meantime, BCI and the Herald remain committed to engaging with readers, customers, clients and the community, he said.

He reaffirmed the family’s dedication to the company.

“Our board is pleased to have the next generation of Ballantine family members committed to our business and, with their growing leadership, we will continue embracing all the lines of business that comprise BCI,” he said.

Christopher Ballantine

One of those members is Richard’s son, Christopher Ballantine, who is a resident naturopathic physician in the second year of a three-year naturopathic oncology/family medicine residence at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic in Billings, Montana.

In an emailed statement to the Herald, Christopher Ballantine thanked Bennett for the transformation he brought to the company.

“Ultimately, we decided to go our separate ways as we want to reaffirm our values of first-rate journalism, community development, and serving our readers and customers to the best extent possible,” he said. “This was about getting in touch with our roots of why we’re here.”

The company is on no strict timeline for filling the CEO position, he said. He asked the community for patience as the board of directors explores different opportunities and options.

He said the next CEO will share the family’s values for strong, robust community journalism, and for providing the best source of information to Southwest Colorado, whether it be news, phone directories or media and technology companies.

“We want someone who is community-oriented – someone you’ll see at Carver’s eating lunch, on the chairlift at Purgatory, getting a taco at Serious Texas, or in the City Council meeting,” Christopher Ballantine said. “... This person will help establish our company as a beacon in the Southwest that supports our employees to live the life they want – to be a vehicle for their growth. Ultimately, we want someone who is committed to making where we live better.”

A change in leadership also presents an opportunity for a fresh start, he said. The company wants to be more inclusive by embracing the diversity of ideas, thoughts and backgrounds of people who live in the Southwest, Christopher Ballantine said.

The company is adjusting to changing times and doing its best to figure out a business model that is sustainable for the long term, he said. He reaffirmed the family’s commitment to serving Southwest Colorado.

“I want to assure our readers, advertisers and community that our company is not for sale – no part of it is,” Christopher Ballantine said. “It is 100% owned by the Ballantine family, and it is our intention to keep it that way.”

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