San Antonio Heron

is creating news stories




per month

About San Antonio Heron

The downtown San Antonio area is changing rapidly—the steriodic growth around the Pearl; the gentrification of the near East Side; the west end's metamorphosis with the Frost Tower, San Pedro Creek Culture Park, and UTSA's upcoming expansion. We're here to chronicle the change.

The San Antonio Heron is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization, which launched in June 2018. We are dedicated to producing thoroughly-reported and clearly-written stories about the changing downtown. Our goal for every story is to gather all the facts and opinions and present them in an objective way so the reader decides on their own how they feel about the issue.

We aim to update our site at least three times a week with meaty and contextualized analysis and (often) deep dives that answer the questions: How and why is downtown San Antonio changing? What's the impact on nearby communities, especially ones vulnerable? Who's benefitting and who's not from the growth?

We also deliver a Sunday newsletter recap of the week's stories, as well as a Wednesday edition called Around the Plaza, which is packed with analysis, notes and other insight before it hits our website.

Though the start-up road is bumpy, we feel like we are doing a good job of accomplishing our goals early on, but we want to do better. And we need your help.

Why, how we do what we do

We exist to inform our readers. That is our only obligation. We do not produce our journalism for personal gain, for awards, nor for vanity.

One topic of focus is how local policies intended to spur downtown growth are changing nearby communities. A trend for San Antonio of late has been an influx of luxury apartments, backed by city incentives, in the downtown area. We report extensively on this trend. We're not pro gentrification nor are we anti gentrification. We're journalists. And our goal is to ask questions and write stories in a way that's fair and balanced.

Here are stories that best represent our mission:
» Amid rapid change, Government Hill divided on how to absorb incoming development
» As downtown development spreads, displacement and gentrification are set to roll over the West Side
» Is San Antonio doing enough to address displacement?
» Are developers receiving incentives they don't need?
» Downtown's housing incentives are changing. Here's why you should care.

How does Patreon work?

It's a monthly tip jar, essentially. Through your support, this platform allows us the freedom to keep delivering you the best news stories about downtown San Antonio.

You pledge a monthly donation, like a voluntary subscription service, where you decide how much you'd like to pay. You can opt out or change your pledge at any time.

We appreciate all contributions.

Full transparency

We are mostly self-financed and we need your help—hence, this page.

In its first year, the Heron was primarily funded using co-founder and editor Ben Olivo's personal savings. That seed money, however, has expired, and now Patreon is critical to the Heron's survival. [ We're also on PayPal. ] We've also had a handful of sponsors.

Should you choose to contribute, your name will be listed on our site, as well as the total you've contributed to the Heron each year.

Editorial independence

By supporting the Heron, you're entrusting us to make the right editorial decisions in terms of the stories we choose to cover, and how we choose to cover them. Your donation is like a vote of confidence, and in return, we strive to maintain sound news judgment minus the influence of external or internal biases.


» Why start the Heron?

Our slogan is "Telling the complete downtown story." We feel there are stories not being told, or not being told correctly. (See the articles mentioned toward the top that no other San Antonio news organization is producing.)

» What's the end goal?

We strive to become the best news organization in San Antonio. Not the largest, necessarily, but—pound for pound—the best. We hope to be around for years and years to come.

» What's your experience with downtown?

Ben began writing about downtown in 2008 as a blogger at the San Antonio Express-News. He eventually became a reporter and columnist with a focus on the center city.

» How are you funded?

See "Full transparency" above and "Goals" to the left.

What makes you different from the competition? 

Many media outlets in San Antonio operate in the same lane. The TV news stations and, for example, function in that click bait-y lane. It's obvious the Rivard Report is trying to go toe to toe with the Express-News. We operate in a lane all our own. We are not trying to cover the daily goings-on of downtown S.A.—we don't have the resources to do that. We want to hit the pause button on the chaotic news cycle and offer column-like explanatory analysis and deep dives on San Antonio's center city.

Why the Heron? 

Ben wanted to name it The Grackle, but the vast majority of his friends and colleagues loathed the name.
$659.20 of $2,500 per month
When we reach $2,500 per month, the Heron becomes stable. This means editor Ben Olivo doesn't have to dip into his savings to pay freelancers, among other monthly expenses.

$2,000 pays for staff and freelancers, who work for the Heron part-time.

$500 supports our social media marketing budget, which is our primary strategy for gaining exposure; gets us two memberships at Geekdom, the shared office space where we report and write our stories (includes mailbox and locker); and other miscellaneous expenses.
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