There’s a new newspaper in town. The Tri-City Record, which covers Aztec, Bloomfield, and Farmington, printed and distributed its first edition on Monday, May 22. The paper will print every Monday through Friday. Both print and digital offerings are currently free.
“It’s truly my life’s work, and I’m so proud,” said publisher David Cook. “I couldn’t be happier that we’re able to give San Juan County something that I think they desperately needed.”
The owner, publisher, and senior editor all have connections to Colorado. Senior editor Trent Stephens also edits The Durango Herald and the Journal of Cortez, Colorado. Both papers are owned by Ballantine Communications, LLC, which also launched the Tri-City Record. Cook has owned and published the Aspen Daily News since 2017.
The new paper, which is printed out of Santa Fe, hopes to capitalize on the relationships among different states in the Four Corners region. Cook said that Durango residents often travel to Farmington for shopping or art events, and vice versa.
“Forget about state lines,” Cook said. “There’s no question that the Four Corners region has many economic tie-ins for sure.”
Environmental issues, including river health and oil extraction, also blur the line between the states, Cook said.
The Durango Herald and the Journal in Cortez have long had a reporter covering the Farmington area – which allowed the papers to quickly respond to news affecting the region as a whole. The Durango Herald was one of the first media outlets to cover the Farmington shooting May 15.
Cook first visited the region on a consulting trip for the Ballentine family, which now owns the new Farmington paper.
“There were some real gaps in the beat reporting,” Cook said. “I saw a real opportunity. San Juan is the fifth largest population center in New Mexico — and in my estimation … it was slowly becoming a news desert.”
The Tri-City Record joins the Farmington Daily Times, which has covered the region since the 1890s. The newspaper was bought by Gannett in 2015, and as the newspaper conglomerate laid off staffers nationwide, the paper’s staff was whittled down in recent years. Currently, just one reporter is listed on the newsroom directory.
The Tri-City Record has a staff of 12 contributing writers and advertisers. Cook said he estimates about half the staff lives in Farmington, and the rest live in the Four Corners region.
Currently, the revenue is coming from ad sales. Cook said at some point, the website could add a paywall. But at least one of the offerings, print or digital, Cook said, will always remain free.
“There’s no guarantee of what it will look like in a year,” Cook said. “But certainly our goal, my principles as a publisher, and a media owner, is that news belongs in the hands of its citizens.”