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T-Squared: We’re joining forces with ProPublica to investigate Texas — and spending more than $8.5 million to do it

Working together over the next five years, a team of watchdogs will hold people in power and institutions accountable in ways that serve the public interest. This is a big win for all Texans.

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I’m excited to report that The Texas Tribune is joining forces with ProPublica, the award-winning nonprofit news org that is our longtime collaborator, to publish world-class investigative journalism in and about Texas for the next five years. Together we’re hiring an 11-member team, including a lead editor and seven reporters, for the purpose of overturning rocks in the realms of politics and public policy. We’ll focus on waste, fraud and abuse, public corruption, agency malfeasance, campaign finance shenanigans and the like. We’ll produce traditional narratives, multimedia, data visualizations and every other kind of content imaginable.

Best of all: We’re committing to spend a truly extraordinary amount of money on this vital work. This will be a more than $8.5 million investment in the kind of in-depth, time-intensive journalism that is not nearly enough in evidence these days. And of course, in classic Texas Tribune style, we’re giving this incredible reporting away for free. In addition to publishing on our platform and ProPublica’s, we’ll make the byproducts of this partnership available at no cost to any print, digital or broadcast outlet that wants to republish, repost or re-air it.

Why are we doing this? Because no place is more in need of watchdogging than Texas — a target-rich environment if you’re in the business of holding people in power and institutions accountable. The resources available to realize this worthy mission are never enough, but teaming up with the very best investigative outfit in the country expands the limits of what’s possible and serves the public interest in ways that will make our state better. This is a big win for all Texans.

How are we paying for it? By fundraising over and above the annual ask for operations of each entity. We’re thrilled to have received a $5.75 million lead gift from Houston-based Arnold Ventures, whose principals, Laura and John Arnold, believe in and have a distinguished history of funding serious, independent, impactful journalism. We’ve also secured generous donations from the Energy Foundation, the Catena Foundation, the Charles Butt Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, and the attorneys Marc Stanley of Dallas and Mikal Watts of San Antonio. We still have a few million to raise, but we’re confident that we’ll receive the remaining support we need once we’re up and running.

Speaking of which: We plan to launch Feb. 1 — at the start of what will surely be a game-changing political year that will quickly give way to another momentous legislative session. First on our to-do list is to hire a visionary editor to spearhead this effort. A description of the position is now online. Apply yourself or help us identify the very best person for this amazing job.

You can also apply for our reporter, engagement reporter, research reporter, data reporter and story producer positions here.

We’re psyched to get started. Watch this space for updates over the next few months.

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