By Gaige Davila
The media ecosystem in the Laguna Madre area, specifically South Padre Island, may be growing soon, in the form of a nonprofit newsroom akin to the San Antonio Report.
Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Report, has seen this firsthand, starting the then-named Rivard Report from a blog he wrote after leaving the San Antonio Express-News, where he was editor-in-chief.
Rivard spoke at the South Padre Island Convention Centre this past Saturday, in the first event held by Island Matters, an upcoming nonprofit, online-only newspaper run by the former Property Owners Who Care organization (now just called POWC).
Rivard explained his background in journalism, starting at the Brownsville Herald as a sports reporter; staying at the now-gone Yacht Club during tropical storms to report on the storms; reporting from South America for the Dallas Times Herald and Newsweek; then to San Antonio.
Rivard then spoke at length on what non-partisan, hyperlocal journalism in a nonprofit model could do for news coverage on South Padre Island, saying he would support Island Matters as the news site grew.
“South Padre has a chance to tell its story in a much more dramatic and broad fashion than it’s doing now,” Rivard said. “That’s the opportunity Island Matters creates if they do their job right.”
Island Matters, and the POWC, has changed from a 501(c)4 to a 501(c)3; in other words, a community organization to a public charity. As of now, Island Matters is available on a members-only basis, soon to transition to being publicly accessible as they receive more donors and members. As of now, Island Matters has around 500 members, according to POWC President George Block.
“People who live (on South Padre Island) are passionate about here, they’re passionate about this island, they love our little paradise, they care about it, they want it to be great, that’s what all of us want,” Block told attendees this past Saturday. “Our viewpoint is the more people know about our island, the more people fall in love with her, and the more they will do for her, the more they will care for her.”
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