On Nov. 18, 2020, the Del Rio News-Herald printed its final edition leaving this border town of 35,000+ without a local news outlet. But just one month later, a weekly free tabloid entitled The 830 Times (named after the local area code) appeared throughout the town and surrounding Val Verde County.
The new newspaper grew out of a then 5-month-old entertainment-based local website started by 56-year-old air force veteran Joel Langton. Langton relocated to the area 16 years before when he was assigned as a public affairs officer at nearby Laughlin Air Force Base.
Joel states in his LinkedIn profile: “I've got 30 years with the Air Force in Public Affairs where I've been involved in media, internal communications and many consider my strength to be community engagement. However, I've got plenty of experience in all of it, and I'm a big proponent of causes bigger than myself.”
Today the Times publishes more than 40 pages a week, with a 50%+ ad count. The newspaper gained national attention uncovering how a proposed Chinese-owned wind farm would disrupt military operations (Chinese Reps Defend Proposed Wind Farm). And with their live coverage of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Haitian immigrants who camped under the Del Rio International Bridge last September.
Joel’s publishing accomplishments even awarded him national attention in the January 2021 New York Times article: “In a Widening News Desert on the Border, a Tabloid Start-Up Defies the Odds."
In this 123rd episode of "E&P Reports," Publisher Mike Blinder goes one-on-one with Joel Langton, the air force public affairs veteran who saved a Texas border town from becoming a news desert with a thriving, local news outlet publishing an ad packed, free weekly newspaper.
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