We've been saying it all along — but it's nice when someone else says it.
This morning the nonpartisan Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released "Non-Profit News: Assessing a New Landscape in Journalism," a wide-ranging study of nearly four dozen digital media organizations, most of them non-profits, that cover state and national news. The intent was to determine how ideological and transparent the content of those sites is, claims of lack of bias and independence from their financial backers notwithstanding, and to measure how productive they've been in achieving their related but varied missions.
The quick, unsurprising take-aways: Some news sites are biased and others aren't; some are transparent about their funders and others aren't; some are producing a great deal of journalism and others aren't.
The pleasant good news: The Texas Tribune is among the least ideological, most transparent and most productive of the bunch.
On a scale of 1 to 100, the Trib scored just 20 in ideology — meaning our content is judged to be quite non-ideological in terms of "range of viewpoints," "story themes" and "targets of exposes." By comparison, the liberal American Independent News Network, of which the Texas Independent is a part, scored 63, and the conservative Watchdog.org sites
, of which Texas Watchdog is one,* scored 64. Only four of the organizations in the study (Connecticut Mirror, ProPublica, California Watch and New Jersey Newsroom) scored lower than we did.
In the category of transparency — relating to funding sources, mission and accessibility of our staff — the Trib scored a 90, tied with ProPublica; only three sites (California Watch, MinnPost and New West) scored higher.
And in the category of productivity — volume of original reporting and staffing level — the Trib tied California Watch and a for-profit news site, the conservative Daily Caller, with a perfect score of 100.
Since well before we launched in November 2009, we've been saying that we're committed to nonpartisan, hug-the-center-stripe journalism, with no undue influence from within or without, and that we intended to put as many bats in the lineup as possible — each of them swinging for the fences. There were skeptics and doubters; there always are. But Pew's 47-page report, which is embedded below, is verification that we've honored our pledge.
*Editor's note: An earlier version of this post associated the Texas Watchdog organization with the Watchdog.org family of sites. In fact, while the two share some sources of funding, Texas Watchdog is affiliated with the Statehouse.org family of sites, which were judged by Pew to be much less ideological. We regret the error.