About Us

The Texas Tribune: A Brief Organizational Overview

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern. Our vision is to serve the journalism community as a source of innovation and to build the next great public media brand in the United States.

The Texas Tribune was co-founded by John Thornton, Evan Smith, and Ross Ramsey. John Thornton has been a venture capitalist in Austin for nearly twenty years, and he believes passionately in the potential of public media. Evan Smith serves as CEO and editor-in-chief, having spent nearly eighteen years at Texas Monthly. Managing editor Ross Ramsey was the longtime owner and editor of Texas Weekly, the state's premier newsletter on politics and government, which was acquired in July of 2009 by the Tribune. Emily Ramshaw, one of the Tribune's original reporters, was named editor in 2011, overseeing the day-to-day editorial operation and long-term projects. Our staff of 41 includes an impressive array of veteran reporters, young stars and ambitious newcomers, plus some pretty terrific tech and business development folks.

We advance our mission in two principal ways: First, we report, write, compile, record, shoot and post nonpartisan news and information online at our destination web site and in the pages and on the sites of our distribution partners, to which we provide content for free. We cover a full range of topics including education, health care, human services, immigration, border issues, transportation, water, the environment, criminal justice, poverty, energy—pretty much every line in the state budget. We also cover the major candidates and campaigns for high office, though we train our sights less on the candidates than the issues. Our reporters routinely collaborate with major newspapers and local television and radio stations to produce investigative projects. The Tribune partners with KUT (Austin’s NPR affiliate) to produce original radio journalism. We also provide two days of Texas-based content for The New York Times, both online and in print editions statewide.

Second, we present on-the-record, open-to-the-public events: a Conversation Series featuring elected officials and other newsmakers in moderated discussions at the historic Austin Club; The Hot Seat, a statewide series that provides citizens the opportunity to hear from their elected officials in their home districts; The Texas Tribune Festival, which brings together the state’s most prominent thinkers, politicians and public servants for a weekend of debate, discussion and dialogue at UT-Austin; and The Texas Tribune Festival: On the Road, a series of free one-day, one-topic public symposiums with policy experts and Tribune journalists on university campuses across the state. All TribLive events are taped and available to all online visitors and our syndication partners. The point here is that the in-person experience is itself a distribution platform, and once the event is over, the audio and video of what took place becomes content of its own.

The Texas Tribune launched its site on November 3, 2009. Since then, it has received more than 141 million page views from 18 million visitors, and has earned prestigious awards and accolades. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Texas Tribune is supported by individual contributions, major gifts, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants. The Tribune also generates earned revenue from events and specialty publications.