I think it is ironic that Newspaper Tree is having an in-person kickoff party for something you can only consume online. Show up physically for something you can only get digitally! Hey, everybody likes a party, right? Right.
The claim in the announcement that Newspaper Tree will be "nonpartisan" is laughable. If you look at the true definition of the word, the El Paso Times is "nonpartisan" being that neither party controls their message. However, we'd all agree that the El Paso Times is quite partisan on many issues.
Anthony Martinez is the publisher and a good guy. However, he's a big time liberal democrat. There a good chance that the stories written for the site are going to have that bent. There is zero other reason for his involvement - whether that's something the Community Foundation intended, or just something he's going to educate them on as this project moves forward.
You may remember that the Community Foundation hired a French environmentalist whose whole goal was to shut down all industry in El Paso, A La Raza zealot whose entire mission in life is to round up the white people and execute them and Debbie Nathan - the Latino Nancy Pelosi. Needless to say, that staff was fired for making the Community Foundation board members their prime targets for "investigative journalism" in El Paso. You can understand why that didn't last. You don't investigate the boss and then expect to keep your job.
Martinez is a lighter, smarter version of that trio. He's a Shapleigh Camper. Ray Caballero and Eliot Shapleigh will be the de facto editors of Newspaper Tree. Some of you are going to love that and some of you aren't. None of you are going to love the pointless articles about art and culture they are promising to deliver (shoot me, really - nobody cares).
Some of you are saying "well, David K, all he has to do is have a republican write and it will balance it out." That's not how you make something "nonpartisan." Having a democrat and republican both comment on something doesn't make the finished product "nonpartisan." That makes the work explicitly partisan.
It is very hard to have someone from the political world run a news outlet and have it not be partisan. I could never sit at the helm of a nonpartisan anything - I'm partisan. My world view would influence my editing. The same thing goes for Martinez. He should have the self-awareness to admit that.
Newspaper Tree is going to run into a problem once it's launched and starts producing pieces of work that folks don't agree with. It's a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit media organization and it took them forever to get that designation from the IRS. That means anyone can file a complaint against them for producing material that could be read as partisan in nature. And believe me - it will be an easy case to make. Once the complaints start rolling in, the IRS will stick an investigator on it and they often rule on the side of caution when it comes to nonprofit media outlets - they jerk their status from them.
Newspaper Tree would serve the community so much better if it were a for-profit newspaper. They would also save themselves a lot of headaches. Sadly, it will never be what it once was. I guess we should just enjoy what we get for the short time we have it.