RBC I The oldest, continuously operated business in Rio Blanco County has new owners.
Niki and Pat Turner have purchased the Herald Times newspaper from Mitch and Meg Bettis.
The Turners begin their ownership today.
“I take seriously the role this newspaper plays in our community,” Niki said. “Taking on the responsibility of a 132-year-old newspaper—one of only a few independently owned and operated newspapers in Colorado—is a weighty thing. The paper has had a great, long history, and we look forward to to being a part of its future.”
With the change, Niki will assume the role as editor, replacing Sean McMahon, editor for the past three and a half years.
The Bettis family has owned the paper for 15 years, having purchased the newspaper in March 2001 from Kerry and Joy Murdock.
“The community has been very kind to us,” Mitch said. “We consider it a great honor to have been part of the Herald Times’ history. I consider the paper a community treasure, and I have always thought we were to be stewards of the work the Lyttles, Cooks and Yeagers did before us.”
Bettis noted that Niki was on staff before he and Meg purchased the newspaper 15 years ago.
“Niki has a long history with the Herald Times and has done most every job the newspaper has to offer during her tenure,” Mitch said. “She even grew up in the publishing business with her parents’ distribution company. Her daughter, Caitlin, has worked at the Herald Times since she was a teen. The family has a commitment to the newspaper and a commitment to the community, and I think the community is served best when the owners are local.”
The Herald Times was founded Aug. 15, 1885, and it has had only a handful owners in its history. The Herald Times remains one of the oldest, continuously published newspapers in Colorado (see related sidebar on page 7).
The newspapers around Rio Blanco County are owned by out-of-state companies. Newspapers in Craig, Steamboat Springs, Rifle, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs and several others in the region are owned by Swift Newspapers of Reno, Nev. The newspaper in Vernal, Utah, is owned by a company based on San Diego, Calif.
“There aren’t many locally owned community newspapers in Colorado or around the country,” Bettis said.
“To be able to leave the newspaper in the hands of people who love it and the community is a great thing. No newspaper makes everyone in the community happy all the time, but the key to being able to keep the ownership local is that the community must continue to be supportive. The newspaper readership of the Herald Times remains very high compared to other newspapers around the country, so the paper has been blessed with community support.”