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Family tradition

Herald a community institution, ‘megaphone’ to residents for 70 years

The Durango Herald has always been at the center of our lives. My siblings and I saw how much our parents, Morley and Arthur, enjoyed shaping the paper’s effort to report and comment on goings-on in Southwest Colorado, and to make it a financial success.

They were from Minneapolis and New York City, and the Four Corners was a very different world that they eagerly explored.

Each joined different organizations to expand the paper’s reach, then shared the day’s events at dinner with their four children listening in.

Richard Ballantine, BCI board chairman, addressees staff members at The Durango Herald in February 2013. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

It was an equal partnership until Arthur died unexpectedly at 61 in 1975, and Morley with some support from her children (she didn’t need much) led for some 30 years.

Before the digital tsunami that began in the early 2000s, the local newspaper, like the three television networks, was alone on the stage. Now, more news is produced from more outlets large and small than there is time to scan, and retailers and professionals do portions of their advertising on national aggregators, and in-house. Local goings-on continue – but now are even more frequent and disparate, which a population increasing in size and diversity brings – stretching a newspaper’s resources.

The reduction from seven days in print to three was a painful but needed expense reduction, at least partially offset by the desire for more immediate reporting received online.

Please join us

Ballantine Communications is celebrating 70 years of ownership. Please join us for an informal open house at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, or 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at The Durango Herald office, 1275 Main Ave.

The Herald’s ownership has always viewed the paper as heavily a community institution, one that to be read and relevant must cover the breadth of community activities before weighing in on the opinion pages with criticism, praise and aspiration. The letters to the editor are varied and numerous and include criticism of the Herald, and when the paper’s leadership is stopped on the street, it is for mostly tactful criticism. That is welcome.

There are multiple syndicates that are providing state, regional and national news, many supported by philanthropy, and sole commentators providing opinion.

But for local news and a megaphone for residents’ opinions, there must be a local paper, and the best are usually locally owned with revenues that remain local. That means readers, either print or digital who pay for access, and advertisers who believe the paper’s readers will shop and use their services, are critical. We think the Herald is a worthy read, and that it brings customers to advertisers’ doors.

We want to continue family ownership beyond 70 years, and as always need your help to do it.

– Richard G. Ballantine, BCI board chairman