Southwest Colorado newspapers announce layoffs
DURANGO — Durango Herald publisher Richard Ballantine has announced the largest round of layoffs in Ballantine Communications’ history.
The company, owner of four southwestern Colorado newspapers, said 11 employees have been laid off, and some functions will be consolidated.
The changes were announced by Ballantine Communications and reported Thursday by The Durango Herald. Ballantine owns the Herald, The Cortez Journal, The Dolores Star and The Mancos Times.
Three employees were laid off from the Herald and eight from the Journal’s office. Two Journal employees were transferred to different positions within Ballantine Communications.
Layout, news page design and advertising design for all four newspapers will be done by Herald staff.
The Journal publication schedule will be cut from three days a week to two, on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Dolores Star will publish on Thursdays instead of Fridays. The Mancos Times will continue to come out on Wednesday.
The layoffs are effective March 29. The other changes go into effect April 1.
“Newspapers until the last few years have really been unchanged for 70 years, but because of the economy and the changing way news is delivered and obtained, we need to rethink how we do what we do,” Ballantine said.
“The Ballantine family has always been generous in terms of how they structure their newspapers in terms of news and advertising content. In order to do that, they were willing to operate their papers at a lower revenue level than what other newspaper companies are usually willing to do,” said Ken Amundson, general manager of newspaper operations.
The company has long supplemented its newspaper operations with revenue from Directory Plus. Growth in digital communications soon will overtake directories, Amundson said.
“We need to bridge the gap to where we need to be in the future,” Amundson said.
The reductions will save the company close to $1 million a year, Ballantine said.
The company will pursue other ways to generate revenue, including increasing the portion newspaper pages dedicated to advertisements. The daily schedule of television programming no longer will be published.
Ballantine Digital Media, a subsidiary of Ballantine Communications, is developing a digital marketing agency and expanding Buzztown.com into larger markets that include Albuquerque, N.M., Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas.