The Texas Tribune
Austin, Texas USA
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit media organization in Texas in the United States. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it aims to promote civic engagement through original, explanatory journalism and public events. Its website and content in various delivery platforms serves as an alternative news source for Texas, with a goal of supplementing mainstream media sources.
The foundation was created in the summer of 2009 by venture capitalist John Thornton and veteran journalists Evan Smith and Ross Ramsey. The idea for the organization originated with Thornton, who spent much of 2008 and 2009 promoting public interest in the concept of journalism as a public good. Thornton wrote, in July 2009:
In Micro 101, we learn that such "public goods" as clean air and national defense will not be produced in sufficient supply exclusively by market forces. Allow for the sake of argument that what I'll call "capital J" Journalism – journalism that takes on serious, complex issues and puts them in the context of how citizens interact with their government – is such a good.
Thornton and his wife, Julie, contributed the initial seed money to fund the organization's nascent operations and began to raise money from around the state and around the country from individuals, corporations, and foundations. He hired Smith, the longtime editor of Texas Monthly, to be CEO and editor-in-chief of the Trib, and the two recruited Ramsey, the longtime editor and owner of Texas Weekly, to be managing editor. Smith and Ramsey subsequently hired several well-known members of the Capitol press corps to join the team: Matt Stiles, of the Houston Chronicle; Emily Ramshaw, of the Dallas Morning News; Brandi Grissom, of the El Paso Times; Elise Hu, of KVUE-TV; and Reeve Hamilton, who covered the Texas Legislature for The Texas Observer. Morgan Smith, formerly of Slate, started writing for the Tribune in January 2010.
Thornton raised more than US $2 million before the project was made public in July 2009. He invested $1 million of his personal money to the organization. By the November 2009 launch, the Tribune raised $3.6 million from more than 1,000 individual donors and at least fifty corporate sponsors.
Financier T. Boone Pickens has donated $150,000. Foundations have also donated around $1.1 million, including a total of $750,000 in grants from the Houston Endowment and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Corporate sponsorships have brought in the funds as well. Most of the 68 corporate sponsors made a $2,500 commitment as co-founders of the publication, and it seems that this figure has not grown substantially since the launch. "In the coming months, we intend to become far more sophisticated in the way we market corporate sponsorships of both our site and our events series, TribLive," Thornton wrote.
The Texas Tribune has been actively developing an open source publishing platform along with The Bay Citizen, specifically tailored for nonprofit news organizations like itself. The system, named Armstrong, was funded through a $975,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is based on technology the Tribune has been using since 2009.
Current staff includes Evan Smith CEO and co-founder, Emily Ramshaw, Editor-in-Chief, Terry Quinn, Chief Development Officer, Ayan Mittra, Editor, Rodney Gibbs, Chief Product Officer, April Hinkle, Chief Revenue Officer, Amanda Zamora, Chief Audience Officer and Jacob Villanueva, Creative Director. Evan Smith was Texas Monthly's editor between 2000 and 2008.
Brian Thevenot, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who was formerly special projects editor for The Times Picayune of New Orleans, joined the staff in October 2009. He has since left the Tribune, and is now business editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Elise Hu and Matt Stiles departed in 2011 to join NPR in Washington, DC. In spring of 2011, the Tribune announced the hiring of the twice named AP Staff Writer of the Year, Jay Root, formerly of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- "Exempt Organization Select Check". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
- The New York Times: Web Start-Up Has Its Eye on Texas
- "''Columbia Journalism Review'': The Nonprofit Road". Cjr.org. October 13, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- San Antonio Express-News: Texas Tribune set as state watchdog Archived July 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Bryan Person (July 29, 2009). "''Media Bullseye'': Journalism is No Longer a Lecture". Mediabullseye.com. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "Ross Ramsey: Executive Editor". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Langeveld, Martin (June 1, 2012). "Nieman Journalism Lab: Texas Tribune is ramping up". Niemanlab.org. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "What If: The Non-Profit Media Model". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "''Austin American-Statesman'': Texas Tribune hires Ross Ramsey as managing editor". Statesman.com. July 23, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Connelly, Richard (July 23, 2009). "''Houston Press'': Chron's Matt Stiles lands on his feet; next to Evan Smith". Blogs.houstonpress.com. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "D Magazine Frontburner: Emily Ramshaw Decamps DMN for Texas Tribune". Frontburner.dmagazine.com. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "''Austin American-Statesman'': Elise Hu leaving KVUE-TV". Statesman.com. July 22, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Jean, Mallary. "''Poynter Online'': Journalists leave full time jobs to work for the Texas Tribune". Poynter.org. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Editors Weblog (January 26, 2010). "''Editors Weblog'': The Texas Tribune: Where the Money Comes From". Editorsweblog.org. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "The Bay Citizen and The Texas Tribune Launch Open-Source Publishing Platform (Project Armstrong) Funded By Knight Foundation Grant". Market Watch. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Smith, Evan. "''Texas Tribune'': Jay Root, Star Reporter, Joins Trib Staff". Texastribune.org. Retrieved June 6, 2012.