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Viviani rolls to Stage 4 victory Skyhawks set up at Whalen Gymnasium

Mission unchanged

As we navigate the digital age, core principles of journalism remain the same
Elizabeth Ballantine

“We serve our communities by providing relevant information, provoking discussions, and supporting economic vitality.”

This is the mission statement of The Durango Herald today. It is essentially unchanged since Arthur and Morley arrived in Durango in summer 1952. Even with all the advancements of technology, myriad platforms – Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs, news aggregators – too numerous to mention or even know about, the scope and depth of news and information in a good local newspaper remains unchanged. And the vitality of a local paper is an indicator of the standard of living in a community.

A newspaper, in print or online, is more than local sports scores and daily horoscopes. It is stories about crime and car crashes and roads with potholes and school board decisions. It is news about tax assessments and the cost of rural electricity. About the local arts scenes. About the homeless and housing shortages. About the impact of cultural changes like the legalization of marijuana and the internecine battles of the Republican right and Democratic left. About the climate extremes that are draining our rivers, fueling forest fires and drying out our landscape.

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

Providing news and information is what we strive to do. Always with attention to factual consistency, sometimes with humor and imagination.

We don’t always get it right. But we know it is important to try.

We Ballantines are proud to have produced a strong local newspaper over three generations, fueled by multiple family members, richly talented reporters, photographers and editors, skillful ad salesmen, pressmen and computer scientists, all whom share a common mission and aspirations.

So far, thankfully, we have survived the rise of the internet and navigated the transformation of customized digital information. That’s because we believe a local newspaper is much more than any single national or global information source. It is about our local community and we locals know it best. We struggle and strive to present the best stories we can.

We have benefited from the rise of the nonprofit support for journalism. We admire in particular the strong reporting on climate change and fossil fuel and mineral extraction across the Rocky Mountain West that has been supported by nonprofit foundations. Thank you, Jonathan Thompson and the Land Desk. Thank you, The Colorado Sun and CoLab. Thank you to The Telegraph, which keeps us entertained and on our toes.

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.

But our company won’t accomplish its mission without an active commitment from you, the local community. Our newspaper is a business that needs the advertising and subscription revenues and multiplicity of cash flows that allow us to remain an independent voice in providing you the information you want and need.

About 2,200 newspapers have closed since 2005; that’s more than two per week. There are increasing areas of what’s called news deserts – areas where there is no credible news and information at the grassroots level. Right here in Colorado there are seven counties without a newspaper.

We don’t want La Plata County to be next.

– Elizabeth Ballantine, BCI board treasurer