Why El Paso Matters is launching here and now
El Paso is at a pivotal moment in its history. Our community is in the midst of a conversation about what a future El Paso should look like.
Recent years have brought successes:
- Improved high school graduation rates.
- More of our youth are attending and then graduating from college.
- Low crime rates.
- The expansion of Fort Bliss.
- Growth of a logistics industry that supports manufacturing in Mexico.
- Expansion of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
- UTEP achieving R1 research status and continuing enrollment growth.
But El Paso also faces crucial challenges:
- We are the focal point of a national debate over the border that often distorts the reality of border life.
- Our private sector wages pay 62 percent of the state and national average.
- Many students graduating from UTEP immediately leave for better opportunities.
- El Paso has one of the highest rates of outmigration — more people leaving than moving in — among major U.S. cities.
- Our population has been stagnant for the last eight years.
- Environmental issues, particularly the impacts of climate change.
- Rising numbers of people without health insurance, complicating efforts to battle chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Political participation in El Paso is extremely low. In the 2017 mayoral election, only 9 percent of registered voters went to the polls. In 2018, with El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke on the ballot challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, 45 percent of registered El Paso voters cast ballots, compared to 53 percent statewide.
Historically, Americans have relied on journalists to identify the successes and challenges faced by their communities. But like media outlets throughout the country, El Paso news providers have struggled in the face of major market changes. The traditional way that American media companies pay for journalism — by selling advertising to run adjacent to stories, photos and videos — has been weakened and in some cases destroyed as digital media created different advertising opportunities.
Studies show journalism plays a major role in supporting healthy communities, encouraging civic engagement and accountability. But old models of funding commercial TV and newspaper newsrooms through advertising revenue are struggling as advertisers move to digital platforms. As a result of these market changes, El Paso has far fewer journalists working today than we did 20 years ago.
El Paso journalists continue to do good work, but getting time for the most important work — in-depth and investigative reporting — is more challenging than ever.
Across the country, independent, nonprofit news organizations have sprung up to serve communities by using new means of funding journalism. Rather than relying on a for-profit business model tied to selling advertising, these nonprofit news organizations get their financial support through membership, philanthropy and events.
El Paso Matters is bringing that nonprofit news approach to build something new for our region – community supported in-depth reporting on the issues that affect our lives now and shape our future. The key to our success will be the support from our members. I encourage you to join El Paso Matters by clicking here to become a member today.
The backing from members and philanthropy will ensure an important part of our mission — that our stories and other content will be available to everyone interested in our community. El Paso Matters won’t require payment to access our work. We believe that in a democracy, access to information shouldn’t be restricted by ability to pay.
We also welcome your input on how we can better serve this region. That includes suggestions for stories we should cover. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to me at email@example.com.
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