By Gaige Davila
An up-and-coming South Padre Island news source will host their first event this weekend, highlighting the importance of local journalism.
The online-only, nonprofit newspaper, Island Matters, funded and operated by the POWC (formerly Property Owners Who Care), is hoping to bring more awareness of its presence on South Padre Island. As an entity, POWC says their goal is to inform South Padre Island residents and visitors on the city’s “issues and opportunities.”
“This is to bring awareness to how nonprofit and independent journalism is on its deathbed in America,” Sarah Lozano, the sole reporter for Island Matters told the PRESS at the POWC office. “We’re trying to bring more awareness to how local news is really important.”
San Antonio Report (formerly the Rivard Report) publisher Robert Rivard will speak at the event, describing how he started his nonprofit newsroom and how local news can impact communities. Rivard started his journalism career locally, as a sports reporter at the Brownsville Herald.
Island Matters is a nonprofit within a nonprofit, operating out of the POWC office on South Padre Island since last year. This event, Lozano said, will hopefully spur more membership and attention towards the news source, emphasizing a collaboration between community and news sources to a more informed public.
So far, Lozano said, Island Matters’ relationship with the city has not been as collaborative as the newspaper would like it to be, noting Mayor Patrick McNulty’s past comments on the POWC and Island Matters during his 2020 election campaign. McNulty dismissed the POWC as an organization that “lie(s) to the public by creating false narratives based on “anonymous” complaints and meritless innuendo,” the mayor wrote on Facebook last October.
“We don’t have the relationship we would like to have with the city,” she said. “Sometimes my emails are not answered.”
Lozano said the city has charged Island Matters thousands of dollars for open records requests and does not believe their relationship with the city will change. However, this is not phasing Lozano and Island Matters, saying that their focus will be on the people of South Padre Island.
The event is open to the public from 4 to 5 p.m. at the South Padre Island Convention Centre at 7355 Padre Blvd.
Lozano said more events are planned for the future.
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