DENVER (AP) — Elizabeth Ballantine, a shareholder and director of a family-owned media company that owns Colorado's Durango Herald was elected president of the Inter American Press Association on Tuesday.
The Miami-based IAPA has about 1,400 member news organizations and promotes press freedoms throughout the Americas, although involvement by newspapers in the United States has declined as they struggle to adjust to the digital age. Ballantine said she would work to renew their interest in the organization at a time of unprecedented threats to press freedoms there.
In a speech at the IAPA's general assembly in Denver, Ballantine highlighted the problems posed by "democratic dictatorships" in Latin America, in which elected leaders change laws to erode freedom of expression, and the increased tension between U.S. reporters and the government over what can be reported about work to fight terrorism following 9/11.
"We hope we are not on a path to democratic dictatorship where government decides what is good and what is wrong," she told members, referring to the United States.
Ballantine's grandfather founded The Des Moines Register and her parents bought the Herald in 1952. She worked as a reporter for the Register and the Herald and later became a lawyer and a professor of Russian history at George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is also on the board of The McClatchy Co., the fourth largest newspaper publisher in the U.S.