Saturday was the third anniversary of the Tribune's first day in business — well, live and online, anyway. In reality we had been a functioning operation since Sept. 1, when our office on Congress Avenue in Austin first opened. Actually, now that I mention it, we started paying Matt Stiles and Abby Rapoport a few months before that, so maybe it's better to say that you can breadcrumb all this back to the summer, before what we were planning to do was public knowledge.
Whatevs. It's been a hell of a ride.
In my heart, I knew we'd get here. In my head, not so much. Arrogance isn't the same thing as confidence. We had ample amounts of the former and only enough of the latter to get the site built and the switch flipped on Nov. 3, 2009. But we believed — we believed that public service journalism is a public good, that there was not nearly enough of it in Texas, and that we could help solve that problem if we put the right people in the right jobs with the right tightly focused mission and enough money in the bank.
That we've succeeded so far (key words: so far) is a testament to, first of all, the hard work of our amazing staff, as fine and talented and dedicated a bunch of people I'll ever know. So expert in their specialties, so self-motivated, so self-directed — and so committed to the kind of explanatory journalism, the kind of watchdog journalism, that used to be the norm.
It is also because of every single individual who has supported us financially, who has believed, too, and backed up that belief with a few or more than a few bucks, and because of every foundation and corporation that put philanthropic or other dollars into the till because they agreed that smarter Texans equal a better Texas. We've raised more than $14 million to date, a full $5 million ahead of plan. That pays for a lot of great reporting.
We owe maybe the greatest debt to every one of you — to every reader, viewer, listener, data consumer, event attender, etc. We'd be well-intentioned nothings without your buy-in and embrace. Since day one, we've logged nearly 12 million unique visitors, more than 22 million visits and nearly 100 million page views. Those numbers grow by the month, week, day. The theory of the case was long ago proven: People really do care about this stuff, or they will if you take them seriously and treat them like the thoughtful, productive and engaged citizens they have the potential to be.
It's commonplace around election time to ask a familiar question that we at the Trib have appropriated and tweaked on this august occasion: Are you better off than you were three years ago? Do you remember what it was like before there was a Tribune? Before we gave you unbiased, unvarnished, unfiltered news and information about politics, public policy and government? We do. And we couldn't be more honored to be in the game.
Here's to the next three years.