After 27-years, publisher and founder of the bilingual, semi-weekly newspaper La Prensa Tino Duran officially announced his retirement during a Monday press conference held at City Hall.
His daughter and former La Prensa Editor-in-Chief Nina Duran has agreed to take the reigns from her father who started the city’s first Spanish-English paper with his wife, Amelia “Millie” Duran, nearly 30 years ago.
“A lot of what I’m doing is not looking at what La Prensa has done in the last 2-5 years, but looking at what my mom and father did 15-20 years ago, ” she said. “What I’m attempting to do is reinvent what they attempted to do.”
Longtime San Antonio residents more than likely have seen Tino at various events in the city throughout his career. While he always remained active in local government circles, and often mingled with some of the city’s biggest business owners, he could also be found connecting with some of the lesser-known voices in the city. During a phone interview with the Rivard Report on Tuesday, Nina recalled a moment when her father had back-to-back meetings with a USAA executive and a homeless person.
“That really shows the kind of character and person that he is,” she said. “Here’s a man who just had a meeting with the CEO of USAA, and now he’s sitting here holding hands with a homeless man from across the street. I feel that kind of person – who he was, and is – is really important.”
Tino’s plans for retirement came after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about two years ago, Nina said, a diagnosis that has left him in declining health ever since. For that reason, Nina described her new undertaking at La Prensa as “bittersweet.”
“I have a ton of questions in regard to what I’m doing and it’s hard because I wish I had my father to guide me through this and I don’t,” she said. “So it’s very heartbreaking in one sense because while he’s still my champion in every sense of the word, at the same time I feel if this were to happen five years ago I would have been able to utilize him and learn about everything he did and knew.”
Since its start in 1989, the family-owned La Prensa’s mission was to promote “positive news” that highlights the inspiring things happening in San Antonio, Nina said. The spirit of the publication – and the Duran family – was to uplift the community that they grew up in and love.
Nina will maintain that mission throughout the publication’s rebranding efforts that are currently underway with the help of local marketing firm Heartfire Media. The firm officially announced its business merger with La Prensa on Monday.
“We’re really excited about taking the paper to the next level,” said Samantha Najera, Heartfire Media owner and longtime friend of the Duran family.
Part of the rebranding will include revamping La Prensa’s digital presence, implementing video content, and expanding its marketing services, she said.
To maintain fluidity in the process, Heartfire and La Prensa are moving into a shared office space together at the Fine Silver Building, located at 816 Camaron St., Suite 240. Najera said she is honored to begin this new venture with the publication that “gave the Hispanic community a voice.”
“Mr. Duran was really innovative and brave in his time,” Najera said, referring to Tino’s tireless efforts in creating and managing San Antonio’s only bilingual newspaper. “He was and still is a leader in so many ways.”
Part of Duran’s leadership at La Prensa was always making sure it had a strong presence in the city, Nina added. That’s something that she intends on continuing and expanding on while in her new postition as publisher.
“He always made sure La Prensa had a banner up at any and every place we could get into,” she said, adding that he used to purchase advertisements to be featured at Spurs and Missions games. “I just want to re-envision what he did because I strongly believe that because we’re a community paper a lot of those old school tactics still can work for us.”
April will be a big month for La Prensa’s paper and digital presence. Along with a complete redesign of the “stagnant” website and the launch of its new logo, the publication will also alter their distribution throughout the city, Nina said. San Antonians can currently find the paper in mom and pop shops around town, as well as bigger places like H-E-B, but the La Prensa team will be focusing on “getting a stronghold” on who their target audience is in the coming months. Analyzing the results will allow the publication to reach its fullest potential revenue-wise, something that’s been underwhelming in recent years.
“Believe it or not, to this day we make maybe $4,000 a year with (digital) advertising. That’s absolutely ridiculous seeing that we’re a digital media outlet,” she said. “So it’s necessary that we have this transformation because if not then we’re just going to continue to remain stagnant.”
After leaving her post as editor-in-chief and serving as publisher, Nina appointed La Prensa reporter Lucia Almanza to serve as interim editor-in-chief for the time being. For now, she said, she’s focusing on moving into the new shared office space with Heartfire Media and making sure the publication’s rebranding stays on track for its debut in mid-April.
Though Nina believes La Prensa has “lost its presence in San Antonio,” especially compared to what it once was in the ’90s, she’s optimistic about its revival. After all, its more than a business; it’s family.
“As a little girl I was always wanting one day to take over,” she said. “Now that it’s happened, while I’m terrified, it feels right, and it feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article did not contain the word “digital” in a quote referencing La Prensa’s annual advertising revenue. It also gave the incorrect suite number for the new La Prensa location as “260.”
*Top image: Founders and former publishers of La Prensa Tino Duran and his wife Amelia “Millie” Duran. Photo courtesy of La Prensa.