We did it! Friday was our one-year anniversary. We survived. Sure, there were some hiccups, but we’re still alive and plan to keep publishing. And thank you to everyone who helped us reach this milestone with a contribution.
Where do we go from here?
When I co-founded the Heron a year ago, the dream was to start a daily news organization focussed on the center city. We tried our best to provide daily updates on the goings on of downtown and the nearby neighborhoods while also producing in-depth stories.
Such a task is a beast even with a full-time staff, resources, and a fully-developed organization. Without those things, it’s hard. Dauntingly hard, at times. More to the point of this announcement, it’s unsustainable. So we have to make some changes.
This month, with the board’s consent, the Heron is pivoting away from a daily news model toward something that resembles more of an online magazine.
This doesn’t mean we’ll produce a lesser volume of stories, necessarily. It means we’ll produce more impactful stories. It means we’ll be in a better position to accomplish our mission, which is to inform you about the changes happening to downtown and their impact on neighborhoods. We can’t do this properly if we don’t truly understand what those changes are, and why they’re happening. And we can’t explore and understand this subject if our time is consumed chasing down the latest scooter drama, for example.
What does this mean specifically in terms of coverage?
We’ll continue to write about downtown development, and neighborhood and cultural change, but in a more strategic way. Instead of writing a daily newspaper-style piece on the latest housing policy, we may instead offer you an analysis on what that policy really means. I’ve been reading Michael Lewis, lately—that deeper level of understanding is what I envision for the Heron. Here in San Antonio, think Gilbert Garcia, Express-News columnist, who does the best job of contextualizing the news.
Another reason for our pivot is our lack of funding. I can no longer dip into my savings to keep the Heron alive. We tried to play the numbers game and generate clicks, and turn those clicks into revenue, but it hasn’t come together.
This means we have to part ways, for now, with reporter Gaige Davila. I hope we can bring him back ASAP.
How? Through grants. Now that we’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the grant model is more in line with our mission. We’ll still pursue sponsors, but we want to emphasize grants and also build up our membership program.
The pivot also means a break. Personally, I’m getting the hell out of San Antonio for a week. We have some stories in the can, so we’ll continue to publish. And Gaige will continue to report and write for one more week.
However, Around the Plaza, our Wednesday newsletter of analysis and insight, will go on hiatus and return July 3. [ To receive this newsletter, donate a minimum of $5 a month either through PayPal or Patreon. Membership support is our most consistent form of funding. ]
Before I wrap this up, some kudos. While I may do the heavy lifting, the Heron is not possible without a team.
» Cary Clack and Irene Abrego have been outstanding as board members, and have really helped this organization through our first-year growing pains.
» Gaige, who started in February, has been as committed to a journalism mission as I’ve ever seen.
» Photographer V. Finster was with us from the beginning into 2019, and was instrumental in helping to establish the Heron brand.
» Graphic artist Harry Thomas, who I worked with at the Express-News, generously built our site, and continues to stay on as our web developer.
» From the beginning, my friend Anthony Swartz has offered his largesse in taking care of our hosting needs.
» And to the other friends who offered their advice, THANK YOU.
One more thing. People keep asking me: When’s the party? In July. I’ll keep you posted.