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This week Omar Rodríguez Ortiz joins the staff of the Marco Eagle as its newest reporter, covering a variety of issues on Marco Island including local politics, the city and environmental news.

Reporter Devan Patel will continue reporting on ongoing issues with the Marco Island Police Department in his new, broader role as a public safety enterprise reporter. You will continue to see his reports on marconews.com, naplesnews.com, the Marco Eagle, Naples Daily News and the News-Press.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, Rodríguez Ortiz created a college-based news organization to cover two student-led strikes against tuition hikes in Universidad de Puerto Rico. Beginning in 2013, he worked in the Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico carrying out media related assignments for several years.

In 2018, Rodríguez Ortiz earned a master-of-arts degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, having reported on local and state government, domestic workers and police. His work has appeared in Texas Monthly, The Texas Tribune and The Austin Chronicle, with a special focus on accountability and human rights.

“Journalism should evolve from ‘giving voice to the voiceless’ to ‘amplifying the voices of the unheard,’ ” said Rodríguez Ortiz.

Patel started at the Marco Eagle on April 2, 2018, and previously worked at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, and The World in Coos Bay, Ore., where he won the Public Service Journalism Award for coverage of regulatory violations at a memory care facility. The coverage resulted in surge of ombudsman volunteers and a state representative introducing legislation for greater training and education requirements.

“Patel changed the Marco Island landscape by bringing important issues to light,” said Marco Eagle Editor Bill Green. “It wasn’t always the kind stories the community wants to hear,” said Green. “But it was always news we needed to hear. I’m very proud of his work.

“As for Rodríguez Ortiz, I look forward to seeing what he does and the impact he has on our island community. Journalism has the power to create positive change and help a community grow in the right direction.”

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