I am pleased to report that the Rio Grande Guardian reached a couple of significant milestones on social media this past week, coinciding with our 11th Anniversary.

We reached 2,000 “Likes” on Facebook and 5,000 “Followers” on Twitter. These milestones are all the more impressive because we have not, historically, paid much attention to social media platforms.

Hutton Edwards
Hutton Edwards

All this is changing, however, following the introduction of Mark Hanna as business adviser and Hutton Edwards as social marketing guru. When Mark and Hutton joined the team a little over a month ago they said they would be placing a lot of emphasis on boosting our presence on a number of social media platforms. They are already having a big impact I am pleased to say. And there is a lot more to come as we start to fully utilize all available platforms.

“Social Media has evolved as a great resource for news publications. It allows us to stay connected to our readers and to connect with future readers,” Hutton said.

We have Carlos Cruz to thank for our sharp and bold new logo, which has gone over well with readers, particularly the younger ones. We wanted a crisper and more modern look and I think Carlos has achieved this. Thank you, Carlos!

Here are our new social media platforms with links:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube.

As we celebrate our 11th Anniversary, I also want to thank four newcomers to the team, photographer Stevie Gallegos, business reporter Ena Capucion, and interns Alyssa Sandoval and Roxanne Sanchez. All are playing their part to boost our news content

And, we still have a vacancy to fill in our San Benito bureau. We are looking for an experienced, hard-working reporter to cover Cameron and Willacy counties. Send your resume to [email protected]

I would also like to say “Welcome Back” to a much-missed former colleague, videographer Apolonio Sandoval. Looking forward to working with you again, Apol.

I would be remiss if I did not also say thank you to the “mainstays” of the Rio Grande Guardian, Nadezhda Garza, Claudia Perez Rivas, Dayna Reyes, Blanca Zumaya, Patricia Fogarty and Shon Gonzalez. You all know how important you are. Thank You!

Thanks, too, to our brilliant website developer, Alex Garrido and his team at Red Ant Digital, and to Victor Ollervidez, who is working on long term projects to make us even more relevant and dynamic in the international news market.

Thanks, guys, for your commitment, energy and ideas.

As it is our 11th Anniversary, we asked editor Patricia Fogarty to pen a column about the first 11 years. Here it is:

Fogarty: RGG – The First 11 Years

The Rio Grande Guardian is an international on-line news service established in July, 2005. Its initial editor was Steve Taylor and its publisher was Melinda Barrera. The publication’s name came from its creators’ desire to guard the Rio Grande Valley from those who misunderstand and misrepresent our fascinating and unique Border Region.

The Rio Grande Guardian began as a subscription service. For two years the subscription rate was $189 a year. But it was tough raising enough capital to support the fledging news operation with a subscription form of income.  Various methods of raising capital were tried. The sale of an Isuzu Rodeo allowed for the creation of the publication’s first web site.

In 2007, the paywall was removed and the Rio Grande Guardian became a free digital news service. Employees were added as money became available. A silent partner, Genevieve Vaughn, invested enough money to enable website changes, office rental, and new talent, including a news clips manager, a couple of full-time reporters, and a video technician.

Advertising became very important. But, even though 2007-2008 was busy, advertisements didn’t generate income as fast as needed. The Rio Grande Guardian was simply ahead of its time, with cities and many businesses only beginning to get websites.  In late 2008, staff time had to be cut, and some employees left, including the first publisher.

Time passed, with both flush and lean days. Editorial focus shifted over time. Legislative and political news from the Texas state capital impacting the Border Region was initially most prominent. Later, grassroots activities and community affairs, especially in colonias, received emphasis on the news pages. Business and economic development, education and health care soon followed. The Rio Grande Guardian went wherever events affecting the Border Region were taking place. Offerings were varied—like a season of soccer–and stories appeared in both Spanish and English.

Rio Grande Guardian stories have been picked up by:  The New York Times, The Washington Post, most major newspapers in Texas, ABC World News Tonight, The Drudge Report, The Glenn Beck Show—to name but a few news outlets.

The Rio Grande Guardian has a close working relationship with the RGV Public Radio 88 FM’s Closer to Home Show. This arrangement gets Rio Grande Guardian news story placement on the NPR station, while the station gets top local news stories each morning.

Independent analytics show that Rio Grande Guardian readers earn above average salaries and have an above average education. Fifty-seven percent read the Rio Grande Guardian at least once a day and ten percent read it several times daily.

The Rio Grande Guardian has found its niche in this Information Marketplace, and has staked a claim to it. The Rio Grande Guardian provides a unique international news service to border residents and to people in the United States and Mexico.