Now it can be told — more deliberately and more fully fleshed out than you may have read yesterday: The Tribune has indeed inked a partnership with The New York Times that will result in the best of our content appearing in the pages of the most iconic newspaper in the world.
Starting Oct. 29, we'll be the third local partner in the Times' stable, joining our nonprofit pals at The Bay Citizen and the Chicago News Cooperative in providing homegrown reporting and analysis to augment that of the very capable journalists in the paper's regional bureaus. Specifically, we'll be publishing a total of eight stories a week that will run on Fridays and Sundays in print editions of the Times distributed in Texas. The stories will appear in two-page sections labeled "Texas," and they'll be billed as a collaboration between the Trib and the Times. There will be also a new, Texas-branded area of the Times' website — accessible, obviously, no matter where you live — that will showcase even more of the Trib's work.
What kind of stories are we doing for the Times?
- The lead will always be new, big and meaty — what we in the business call "enterprise journalism." Think of the most far-reaching and impactful stories you've read in the Trib over the last year: Elise on the workers' comp whistle-blowers, Ross on the state of this race or that, Brandi on the Hank Skinner case, Emily on the abuse of disabled girls at residential treatment centers. That's what we'll be shooting for twice a week.
- The second slot will be shorter but no less ambitious — possibly a forward rotation on something we've done earlier that week, possibly something new.
- The third slot will be a reported column, often but not always authored by Ross, putting the events of the week that just passed or the week ahead in context, much as he has done with great success for years at the top of Texas Weekly.
- And, yes, the fourth slot will offer some perspective on "culture": music, film, sports, art, architecture, Texana. This is obviously not a core competency of the Trib, as we've proudly kept our focus exclusively trained on politics and policy. That won't change. But we will be expanding our roster of contributors purely for the purpose of the Times pages.
What do we get out of it?
Exposure to a somewhat if not entirely new audience in Texas — which is to say, even more people susceptible to being engaged on matters of statewide concern. Visibility on nytimes.com, which guarantees that more and different people, around the country and around the world, will see our content than otherwise would have. A few bucks: The Times is paying us, of course, and those resources will help the Trib do a more thorough and more innovative job across the board in year two.
And, honestly, selfishly, we get validation. It's nice to know that our work is Times-worthy while we're still in our upstart phase. In the press release announcing our partnership (see below), Bill Keller, the editor of the Times, said: "This collaboration with The Texas Tribune will allow us to expand our coverage of the state of Texas, supplementing our own work with sophisticated reporting by local journalists who have deep roots in the community." (Hey, you had me at sophisticated.)
What do you get out of it?
A more motivated, energized and public-spirited Trib staff, which undoubtedly means better journalism. And, just maybe, a killer Times subscription offer; more about that to come.