Longtime Trib watchers, fans and foes alike, know how crucial Matt Stiles has been to our operation. In fact, it would be impossible to overstate the degree to which @stiles, as most of you (and us) think of him, has been responsible for our success in our first 18-plus months. His dedication, doggedness and high standards have been instrumental in setting the tone around here, and his vision for a new kind of journalism has truly been the secret sauce. We got attention nationally, in large part, because of our promotion of data visualizations and interactives, and our site traffic has surely been reflective of the wisdom of his decision, and ours, to devote time and energy to building various stores of public information — from government employee salaries on down the line. Not surprisingly, we now see other media organizations scrambling to ape Matt's best efforts.
No wonder, then, that I'm sad to see him go, as we all are. When Matt and his wife, our old pal and colleague Elise Hu, left for Washington, D.C., earlier this year so Elise could start her new job with NPR's Impact of Government project, we were lucky to keep Matt on board remotely. Our agreement was that he would stay with us through the end of the regular legislative session, and he worked very hard to honor that deal, managing all of our databases and producing great content for the site until the very last. But as much as we hoped we could persuade him to stay on past June 1, we knew other opportunities would come calling, and they did. Next Monday, Matt begins a new job as the data reporting coordinator for — whaddaya know — NPR's Impact of Government project. (Curse you, NPR!)
It's a big loss for the Trib and for Texas — not only because of Matt's facility with data. He is also a great reporter and a very strong writer. We'll miss that part of him too.
As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. I'm pleased to announce that, in consideration of a Matt-less world, we have hired Ryan Murphy and Becca Aaronson full time. Ryan started his association with us as Matt's favorite data intern — and was so obviously talented that we brought him on part-time at the start of the session. He shares many of Matt's skills and interests and is on the verge of becoming a consequential data journalist in his own right. Becca wowed us as an intern last fall and, likewise, stayed on with us during the session, when she really kicked into overdrive as a reporter. Together, with guidance and support, they will do amazing work combining data and storytelling. We're lucky to have them on our team.
Transitions are always hard, but in this case we have a lot to celebrate. All the best to Matt as he begins the next chapter of his career — and thanks. And welcome and good luck to Ryan and Becca, who have big shoes to fill.