Ballantine Communications Inc. has announced that it will transition the print edition of the Pine River Times to online only and print stories in The Durango Herald on Fridays.
“The changes better reflect the needs of the community and our own business,” Ballantine CEO Doug Bennett said.
“After a decline in subscriptions, advertising and voters approving a measure that will allow the town of Bayfield to publish legal notices in full only on its own website, we were required to audit Pine River Times expenses.”
Bennett said the economic challenges of delivering two print products to a market that is widely reading and subscribing to both the Times and the Herald are driving the decision to transition the print-only edition of the Times into the Herald.
“During this audit, we also determined that a different approach is required for coverage of community news about Bayfield and Ignacio,” Bennett said. “We will continue to deliver news specifically about the Pine River Valley in print but will do so within the print pages of the Herald. We will also publish daily relevant news to our pinerivertimes.com website, which will remain active. We have seen significant growth in our online audience, and it warrants continued efforts.”
The last print edition of the Times will publish Feb. 1, 2019.
“The decision to close our office and to discontinue our print edition was not easy. We recognize that the Pine River Valley is the fastest-growing area in La Plata County, and we are committed to keeping the residents informed with news, features and sports stories,” Bennett said.
As it was before Ballantine Communications acquired the Times in 2014, the Herald will have a dedicated full-time reporter covering the Pine River Valley. News that would normally be printed in the Times will now be featured in the Herald, including government meetings, sports, breaking news and other stories and information that are important to readers.
Joel Priest will continue to cover Bayfield and Ignacio sports. Beginning Feb. 8 and every Friday after, Priest’s sports coverage will be in the Herald’s new Bayfield and Ignacio pages containing news, feature and sports stories about the Pine River Valley. These dedicated pages will be in the Herald’s Friday edition.
The Herald will produce and update news on pinerivertimes.com and share that information on our Times Facebook page, which will also remain active. Readers will also have the option to subscribe to a free weekly Times newsletter with links to that week’s stories.
With this new structure of reporting, there will no longer be a managing editor position.
“We thank Melanie Brubaker Mazur for her loyalty, professionalism and dedication over the last five years, and we wish her well in her next venture,” Bennett said.
Times subscribers will have the option to receive the Friday edition of the Herald until their subscription expires or to receive a refund for the remainder of their paid subscription.
Advertisers will benefit from new digital marketing products designed to connect with local readers on desktops, tablets and cellphones, as well as niche print publications unique to the Pine River Valley.
“This was not an easy decision, but it is one that will allow us to continue to give the Pine River Valley the news and coverage it deserves,” Bennett said.