COLORADO SPRINGS – Morley Ballantine, former chairman, publisher and editor of The Durango Herald, has been inducted into the Colorado Press Association Hall of Fame.
Ballantine was recognized for her long dedication to journalism in Colorado. With her husband, Arthur A. Ballantine Jr., and their four children, she moved to Durango in 1952 after they purchased the weekly Durango News and the daily Durango Herald-Democrat, immediately merging them to create The Durango Herald-News and then The Durango Herald in 1960. Eventually, the family-owned publishing company grew. The Herald purchased the Cortez Journal and Mancos Times in 1999. The company bought the Dolores Star in 2000 and the Pine River Times in 2014.
CPA, a nonprofit member organization that promotes the newspaper industry in Colorado, recognized Ballantine not only because she was the first woman to serve as chairman of the group’s board of directors in 1968, but also because she was “far ahead of her time championing civil rights, cultural awareness and social justice in Southwest Colorado.”
For decades, she worked as editor and columnist who wrote about local, national and international issues.
“In an era when so many women journalists were relegated to society and home and garden coverage, she rallied for equal pay for equal work, reproduction rights and protection from workplace harassment,” CPA said.
Ballantine died in 2009 at the age of 84.
“Morley very much enjoyed being an editor and publisher, both in partnership with her husband and continuing after he died,” said her oldest son, Richard Ballantine, who serves as chairman of the board of Ballantine Communications Inc. and who worked as publisher alongside his mother.
“She was interested in the region’s issues and challenges, its history and its future. Morley could write well and ask even better questions. She particularly enjoyed giving a boost to women and women’s organizations in her columns and with her counsel.”
When Arthur died in 1975, Ballantine took over leadership of the Herald’s business operations.
“Under her watch, the paper gave voice to native people of the region who long had been overlooked in news coverage,” CPA said while honoring her. “It also pursued stories exposing unsafe drinking water and low-wage employers in La Plata County, despite drops in ad revenues because of the business community’s displeasure. She saw newspapering as an extension of her activism and believed it was journalists’ role to challenge wrongdoing and prod readers toward progress.”
Her family’s foundation helped turn Fort Lewis from a two-year agricultural program into a four-year college, launched the Durango Arts Center and the Women’s Resource Center, and established Center of Southwest Studies.
“Many political candidates were surprised by how much she knew, and she enjoyed the idea-sharing which went on with the leaders of state organizations,” Richard Ballantine said during a speech at the induction luncheon in Colorado Springs on April 14.
“She viewed geographically and culturally diverse Southwest Colorado as a fascinating part of the Southwest.”
Morley was born into a longtime newspaper publishing family in Iowa. She was thought of in the news industry as the model of a local newspaper publisher and a person who had high standards and a high sense of commitment.
“An editorial every day was required, and she wielded a red felt pen to mark grammatical mistakes in news stories,” Richard Ballantine said.