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T-Squared: Emily-in-Chief

The consequential and accomplished leader of our newsroom, Emily Ramshaw, will take on an expanded set of responsibilities as well as a new title: editor-in-chief.

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Seven years ago this summer, when we sketched out — literally — the plans for The Texas Tribune, Ross Ramsey and I participated in what might be described as a two-man, one-team fantasy baseball draft. Only instead of major league players, we drafted members of the Capitol press corps. Which of our colleagues up and down Congress Avenue, we asked ourselves, would we hire if we could, presuming their professional circumstances and our ability to pay were no object? As the legend goes, every name that appeared on that first list migrated over to our staff box before day one.

At or near the top was Emily Ramshaw, who at the time was a star reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She was going to be our biggest get, and we got her, and you all know the rest. Seven years later, Emily has more than rewarded our faith and realized her promise as a member of Team Trib — growing every year, stepping into bigger and more important roles, always learning as she goes — and she is, today, undeniably, as our editor, one of the most consequential and accomplished newsroom leaders of her generation in the country.

And so I'm pleased to tell you that, upon her formal return from maternity leave on Monday, Emily will take on an even more expansive set of responsibilities here at the Tribune.

From the inside, this means — in addition to retaining her editorial authority — that she’ll have greater purview over various aspects of what the Trib produces and how it produces it each day and over time: technology, multimedia, new products, audience engagement, events, and partnerships and promotion. From the outside, the change that will be immediately visible is a new title: editor-in-chief.

You may be thinking, "Isn’t that your title?" It is, and it’s a legacy of the Trib’s founding period. When we started this thing I had just come off nearly 18 years at the peak of the editorial operations of Texas Monthly, and I was reluctant to cede that part of my professional identity. More practically, the editorial vision for the Trib was largely my vision, augmented by the input of others. Editor-in-chief fit. In year seven, the vision has remained consistent but also evolved in a way that it’s truly an amalgam of several people’s visions, principally Emily’s. And as for my professional identity — well, I’ve gotten over myself (somewhat). Going forward I am happy being just CEO, raising money to pay for it all and giving speeches about how we’ve disruptively innovated, and I am absolutely happy and comfortable handing off the reins of the editorial ops, fully and completely, to my great friend, peer and partner, for the simple reason that it accurately reflects the scope and impact of her work and contribution. 

Some of you will be tempted to read a larger meaning into this about the near future of the Trib, or my near future — I'd be tempted to read a larger meaning into this myself — but there is none. I am not going anywhere any time soon. This is not the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning. We are no longer a start-up, and the administrative structure that we put in place in 2009 is no longer the right structure for 2016 and beyond.

Emily Ramshaw is the right choice, a magnificent choice, to take the wheel. Can't wait to be along for the ride.

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