Jean Otto Award Goes to Ballantine Family

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By: E&P Staff

The Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award was bestowed this week on the Ballantine family, owners of The Durango Herald and other southwest Colorado newspapers, by the Colorado Freedom of Information Council for efforts to preserve freedom of the press and freedom of information.

Herald staff writer Ann Butler quoted council Treasurer Ruth Anna saying, “We don’t give the award every year – only when someone stands out of the crowd and is absolutely worthy.”

Council President Tom Kelley presented the award at a luncheon attended by city officials and representatives of the Colorado Press Association and Colorado Press Women’s Association, city officials and state Representative Ellen Roberts, among others.

Referring to the legacy of family matriarch Morley Ballantine, who died one year ago, Kelley noted that the Ballantines are related to the Cowles family, former owners of The Des Moines (Iowa) Register and Minneapolis Star, now the Star Tribune. “They have maintained Morley’s staunch defense of press rights and commitment to the responsibilities of the press,” said Kelley.

Among issues the Ballantines have taken on in the last decade, the award ceremony cited its Cortez Journal‘s appeal of a libel verdict, which led to a ruling extending the “fair report” privilege to statements made at any public meeting. Other issues included secret balloting by Durango’s school board, copyright matters, closed meetings, trial documents and governmental correspondence.

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