The Texas Tribune: A Brief Organizational Overview
The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
The Tribune was founded in 2009 by John Thornton (a venture capitalist in Austin for nearly 20 years and passionate believer in public media), Evan Smith (the veteran editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly and host of a weekly interview program on PBS stations), and Ross Ramsey (the owner and editor of Texas Weekly, the state’s premier newsletter on politics and government).
The Texas Tribune and its destination website were launched in November 2009, thanks to $4 million in private contributions as seed funding, a small band of talented computer programmers and some of the most accomplished journalists in the state.
Now with a staff of nearly 50 dedicated reporters, editors, technologists, designers and business leaders, the Tribune has continued to advance its mission of bringing greater transparency and accountability to public policy, politics and government through news, data and events.
The Tribune, which has the largest statehouse news bureau in the United States, covers a full range of topics including public and higher education, health care, immigration, criminal justice, energy, poverty, the environment, water, transportation — pretty much every line in the state budget. We also cover the major candidates and campaigns for office, though we train our sights less on the candidates than the issues. And we facilitate a statewide conversation about these topics on our op-ed site, TribTalk. To further our pursuit of statewide engagement, we provide all of our content, for free, to print, radio and television news organizations throughout the state, and nationally in partnership with The Washington Post. We also produce a series of specialized Trib+ newsletters — on topics like health, education and water issues — for those who want a deeper dive on the issues. They feature interactive maps, data tools, research and articles from the Tribune and elsewhere.
The Tribune has become an authoritative source for providing user-friendly data interactives of public information in Texas. Our reporters and software engineers collaborate to present a full picture for readers, giving them the tools to be more thoughtful, productive and engaged citizens. Examples include our government salaries database, Texas hospitals explorer, and a guide to financial interests of elected officials.
Each year we host 50-plus on-the-record, open-to-the-public live events — on college campuses, in community centers and everywhere in between — at which public officials, policy wonks and newsmakers answer for the work they’re doing and how they’re spending your tax dollars. Events are often available via livestream video, for those who can’t attend in person, and following the conversation we publish and archive video online. Our signature annual event, The Texas Tribune Festival, attracts thousands of attendees to the UT-Austin campus to learn about Texas’ biggest challenges and to engage in thoughtful discussion about their respective solutions. Decision-makers, industry leaders and community activists from near and far come to take part in this three-day event.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Texas Tribune is supported by individual contributions and membership (click here to join), major gifts, corporate sponsorships, events and foundation grants. A complete list of the Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.