There wouldn't be a Texas Tribune without Texas Monthly, because there wouldn't be a me without Texas Monthly. I'm referring, of course, to the award-winning 40-year-old statewide glossy where I and so many other journalists in and out of Texas were lucky enough to learn to ply our trade. I logged nearly 18 years at what its founder, Mike Levy, long ago christened "a great magazine" — the sign still hangs outside the front door — and had it not been for the immensely productive and rewarding time I spent there, I wouldn't have had the moxie and skills to co-found the Trib.
So you'll forgive me for beaming a bit when I tell you that the Tribune and the Monthly are well on our way to realizing a fruitful and mutually beneficial content partnership. The publication of "Trouble in Mind," by our managing editor, Brandi Grissom, in the March 2013 issue of Texas Monthly is the third instance of a Trib writer contributing meaningful long-form reporting to the mag; previously, the handiwork of Brandi's colleagues Kate Galbraith and Reeve Hamilton has graced its pages. A version of Reeve's story also ran in the Tribune, and Brandi's will too — in six parts, beginning today, augmented by multimedia resources that Texas Monthly will likewise run on its website.
If all of this seems very much of the moment in a noncompetitive, forward-thinking, hang-separately-or-survive-together kind of way, well, it is. Not long ago two statewide publications wouldn't have dreamed of giving each other the time of day, let alone sharing human and financial resources. But we have, in search of newer, bigger audiences, at a time when the traditional playbook is old and tired. This thing we do, the media business, is not as robust as it once was. The route to survivial and success is through doors we never would have thought to enter. And more often than not, it involves, it requires, a willingness to collaborate.
In Jake Silverstein, my successor as the editor of Texas Monthly, we couldn't ask for a better collaborator. At 37, Jake is a relative whippersnapper, and the only world he knows is the one in which we live now; he's not bound by the way things have always been done, and he has the most open mind of anyone in his position I know. He was eager to partner with us on our twice-weekly New York Times pages — Jake's writers contribute one of four stories in the Texas section — and he's been generous in entertaining pitches from Tribune writers whose regular medium, short-form news reporting online, doesn't really allow for the kind of gracious narrative non-fiction they're capable of producing. He gets a great story; we get great placement for the best output of our staffers; the expense and the branding are shared. Everyone goes home happy.
"Collaborating on these kinds of deep-dive, long-form pieces with the Trib is great way for us to leverage the strengths of our two organizations in order to fully plumb the depths of a serious subject like this one," Jake says. "Working together we can put every tool on the table — immersive magazine storytelling, engaging design and photography, top-notch ongoing coverage, comprehensive data journalism, and multimedia — plus reach a much larger combined audience. Saying yes to these projects is just about the easiest decision that I can make."
Get used to this kind of thing. You'll be seeing more of it in the months to come. It's in keeping with our day-one strategy of getting our aggressive, ambitious content in front of as many people as possible through as many vehicles as exist. And it feels right. Playing nice with others in the sandbox ought to be the default, especially these days. It's good for journalism, and it's good for Texas.