La Feria News

La Feria News Under New Ownership

by Cayetano Garza Jr./LFN

New publisher Landon Jennings (center) with his wife Natasha (left) and daughters Pearl and Launa. Jennings married Tasha while in graduate school in Houston. Hailing from southern California she says she loves how friendly everyone is here and how proud she is to call the RGV home. Courtesy photo

The fate of one of the Valley’s longest running weekly community newspapers, La Feria News, seemed uncertain when owners Don and Mary Beth Wright announced its sale, along with its sister publication Los Fresnos News, on the front page of the September 18, 2019 edition. The La Feria News had been regularly published since December 6, 1923, when it was first established by publisher L.S. Babo. The newspaper would change ownership many times over during its long, storied history. The Wrights purchased the paper from the City of La Feria in March of 1997.

It wasn’t the first time that Don Wright had contemplated selling the newpaper, says new owner Landon Jennings.
“Don first talked to me about buying the papers in 2016.”

A Valleyite from childhood, Landon Jennings grew up in Combes, TX.

Jennings graduated from Science Academy of South Texas in 2000 and went on to attend Rice University in Houston, graduating with a BA in mathematics in 2003 and later a PhD in mathematics in 2008.

Jennings would go on to teach high school math and science in Houston from 2008 to 2013 before moving back to Harlingen to be closer to his parents, who still reside in Combes.

Working in advertising sales ever since, Jennings found himself in a unique position to become a newspaper publisher.

“I knew Don Wright because we [both] belonged to the North Harlingen Rotary Club. He was looking to retire, but he wanted the newspaper continue. He wanted it to be somebody that knew something about the area and its people, something about the advertising business, and someone he felt he could trust with something he had worked on for many years,” says Jennings.

“The community deserves a quality paper. Don believed that. And I believe that.”

Landon Jennings officially became the newest publisher of La Feria News on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

When asked about his view of the role of a publication like La Feria News, Jennings says a newspaper should first and formost inform the community of local happenings.

“Other news outlets will cover what happens in the county, region, state, nation, and world,” he continues, “but informing the local people about what happens in their town is our job. Some of that means recognition of local accomplishments or changes, thereby being a record for future people to research and know what our town was about, but we also need to inform the town about what is coming up instead of just what has already happened. That means community calendars, and announcements of upcoming events.”

Jennings says he would also like to show advertisers and businesses that readers want to see their ads in the paper and on the website if those advertisements inform.

When asked if there would be any significant changes to La Feria News, Jennings replied.

“Some changes have already taken place. We have started the crossword puzzle and sudoku puzzles, making the publication fun and interactive along with being locally informative. I want to partner with local organizations and the city of La Feria to inform the citizens of their plans in an efficient way.”

Along with publishing La Feria News and Los Fresnos News, Jennings also announced that La Feria Publishing, the umbrella organization of La Feria News, will be partnering with Rio Sports Live to produce a monthly magazine covering RGV sports including high school boys, girls, youth, college and professional sports. This will inevitably lead to better sports coverage for the local community as the newspaper adds staff to cover the stories that the newspaper wasn’t able to cover before.

“The sports page will be much more full of our local high school, youth and club teams.”

Jennings concluded by saying, “The main thing is that the newspaper in print, web and social media should be a great tool for anyone living here or who grew up here. I want them to be proud of it. So we are willing to listen to what people want. We may not be able to do everything, but I know we can do something great.”

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