A savvy assortment of founding members and supporters gathered Tuesday, Nov. 3 at The Belmont to celebrate the launch of The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan public media organization based in Austin, Texas. I was delighted to find myself among a host of Texans equally excited to celebrate a noble experiment in nonprofit political coverage. The Belmont served politically-themed mixed drinks across the aisle, spirits which included The Democrat, The Republican and The Independent.
Based online, The Tribune is an unbiased, interactive platform offering quality journalism, precise data and significant coverage of statewide affairs, following the nonprofit public broadcasting model. More than $3.6 million was raised between July 17 and the Nov. 3 launch, securing finances to support the organization for at least two years. The Tribune does not compete with existing news publications, offers free journalism to website visitors and other news publications across the state.
The launch fell just one day short of a year until the 2010 general election, when Texan voters will elect their next governor, as well as many other legislators and statewide officials. After months assembling a squad of high profile journalists and raising funds, The Texas Tribune set sail, offering free content, incorporating nonprofit funding with digital-only platform, engaging journalistic talents from Texas Monthly, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, El Paso Times, and The Texas Observer.
Just after Texas Monthly earned a distinguished Magazine Award for general excellence in July, Evan Smith stepped down as president and editor-in-chief of the booming publication after more than 17 years. Smith’s decision sparked significant attention, as he walked away from a coveted publishing job to launch a spanking new nonprofit news media model. The endeavor was committed to covering public policy news which had fallen through the gaps of state coverage among current news publications.
The Tribune acquired Texas Weekly, a highly esteemed political newsletter covering Texas politics, officials, government and politicians. While The Tribune incorporates the content of Texas Weekly, the newsletter maintains independent publication as a for-profit insider newsletter for subscribers, featuring exclusive material not presented on the Texas Tribune.
The interactive Tribune includes:
TribWire: This real-time content feed is a buffet of current content from other sources.
TweetWire: A comprehensive selection of tweets of all Texas politicians who are on Twitter.
OurBlogs: Features links to the blogs of Ross Ramsey, Evan Smith, Elise Hu and others.
Other blogs: A staff-selected medley of links to 25 national blogs across the political field.
Topic pages: Detail pages on a range of Texas topics, including: Death penalty, Border cameras, State Board of Education, Child Protective Services, Secession Controversy, Health and Human Services, The Texas Legislature, Immigration, Texas Education Agency, The Governor’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation, Tier One Universities, Republican Party of Texas, Texas Democratic Party, Texas Youth Commission, Texas-Mexico Border, and Department of State Health Services.
Library: A searchable database of public documents
Polling: Results of polls in partnership with the University of Texas
2010: A section offering content about the 2010 election campaign.
Calendar: A listing of all political events and fundraisers across the state.
CampusWire: A smattering of quality college and university journalism from around the state (Southwestern University Megaphone links have been featured)
Texas Weekly: A link to the political newsletter acquired by Texas Tribune
In a statement regarding bias in political reporting, The Tribune states, “Our only bias is in favor of Texas being the best place it can be, which means shining a light on the good being done and making as much noise as possible when the public interest is being subverted or ignored. It doesn’t matter to us if Democrats, Republicans, Independents or Wiccans are in charge. We’ll call ‘em as we see ‘em.”
Visit the Texas Tribune today.