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T-Squared: Our Shale Play

The Shale Life project, the culmination of months of reporting on the people and communities behind Texas' energy boom, launches today. It's our first-ever project that's entirely visual — and also the first we've financed via crowdfunding.

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For months, our reporters, photographers and videographers have roamed the far reaches of this giant state to tell the story of Texas’ energy boom. Today we’re happy to launch The Shale Life project, the culmination of that great work.

This 15-part endeavor represents a couple of key firsts for us.

It’s the first Tribune project that’s entirely visual, from a multimedia slideshow inside a Texas “man camp” to a ride-along with overtaxed emergency responders to in-flight video with a crop duster pilot who must now dodge drilling rigs. The project features the faces and the voices of the people who are prospering from the boom — and those who are suffering from the region's rising cost of living. 

It’s also the first project we financed in part through the contributions of interested readers, by way of the crowdfunding-for-journalism site Beacon Reader. With Beacon’s support, we raised $6,000 from nearly 100 individual donors, money that helps offset the expense of having so many talented journalists on the road.

The shale boom has been the narrative behind Texas’ explosive economic growth, but the stories of the people and communities on whose backs it has been built have been told far less often. The Shale Life project is our way of fixing that.  

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