Ballantine Communications Inc., which owns The Durango Herald and The Journal, announced the promotion of three staff members this week, including Trent Stephens, who will serve as senior editor at both newspapers.
Stephens has served as managing editor at The Journal since October 2013.
Stephens succeeds Amy Maestas, who has been with the Herald for nearly 23 years. Stephens will divide his time between Cortez and Durango.
“I’m excited to help bring the combined experience and expertise of The Journal and Durango Herald newsrooms together for readers in Southwest Colorado,” Stephens said. “Expect increased collaboration and in-depth coverage on topics that affect readers in Montezuma and La Plata counties.”
Before joining The Journal, Stephens, 59, worked in various editing positions at newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, The Indianapolis Star, The Sun in San Bernardino, California, and Newsday in New York. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder.
The company also announced the promotion of Shane Benjamin to the position of deputy editor at the Herald. As deputy editor, Benjamin oversees the Herald’s reporting staff, including Mary Shinn, who covers special topics; Jonathan Romeo, who covers the environment and La Plata County government; Patrick Armijo, who covers education and business; Bret Hauff, who covers Durango city government and law enforcement; and Ryan Maye Handy, who covers the state Legislature in Denver.
Journal staff writers Jim Mimiaga and Erika Alvero are based in Cortez. Mimiaga covers Montezuma County, Dolores and the environment. Alvero covers education, Mancos and business.
Benjamin, 42, is a graduate of Fort Lewis College and has been with the Herald for 19 years. He has covered general assignments, education, city government, county government and law enforcement.
“I am excited to lead a team of talented reporters, and I look forward to delivering quality journalism while connecting with readers,” Benjamin said. “It is a privilege to work for the Ballantine family. Their support for community journalism is unwavering.”
As part of the staff changes, Armijo will spend some of his time as the city desk editor at The Journal.
Doug Bennett, CEO of Ballantine Communications, said change is inevitable in the news business.
“Our jobs entail seeking opportunity,” he said. “We think with these changes, we have an opportunity to create even better coverage of Southwest Colorado. Stay tuned.”