This is one of the saddest and happiest things I’ve had to write for this site in 10 years. Emily Ramshaw, our beloved editor in chief, and Amanda Zamora, our best-in-class chief audience officer, will be leaving The Texas Tribune in a few weeks to launch a new venture: in their words, a new national nonprofit news organization aimed at giving women the facts, tools and information they need to be equal participants in democracy and civic life. Their departures are a blow, of course, but this is an exciting development for journalism — so I’m beaming about their leap.
It would be impossible to overstate the impact that these two extraordinary professionals and dear friends have had on the Tribune and, by extension, on Texas. Amanda returned to her home state in June 2016 to join us as our first-ever lead on audience development and immediately demonstrated the value of her years of experience at places like ProPublica and The Washington Post. Under her leadership, the Tribune’s readership grew quickly and significantly, and we implemented thoughtful, aggressive tactics on membership, newsletters, social media engagement and other critical areas of our operations that put us on solid footing going forward. A champion for greater diversity on our staff and among our followers, she played a key role in the strategic planning process that will guide our work through 2025. From day one she had a gift for stepping back from a critical moment and seeing how different Tribune departments would be affected now and in the future. And she was fearless: She always spoke her mind to everyone, particularly to the CEO. Insert any number of smiley face emojis here.) She was a terrific colleague and role model for younger women — and men — in our office and industry.
As for Emily: Oh my. I don’t have adequate words or space to enumerate the many ways in which she contributed to our success from launch — as a member of the original Tribune staff — up through and past our 10th anniversary. She came to us from The Dallas Morning News as one of the finest young reporters in the Capitol press corps and quickly rose to be a leader in our midst, then *the* leader. Brilliant, visionary, tireless. An exceptional writer and editor. Superb instincts. Calm in a crisis. A moral center. A nose for news. An eye for young talent to be nurtured and loosed on the world. A disruptor by disposition. A savvy businessperson at a moment of inflection for serious journalism: a crafter of generous but responsible budgets, a creative chaser of revenue with unimpeachable integrity. The very best advocate for her staff at all times and in all situations. A pathbreaker: one of very few women to lead a news organization in the country and the youngest member of the Pulitzer Prize board. Likewise fearless. (Ask anyone who dares to @ her on Twitter.) Likewise a role model to one and all — including me.
Everyone who worked alongside Emily over the last decade can tick off the ways she carried us up the mountain. I’ll miss so many things about our work together — she was an enthusiastic collaborator, mischievous co-conspirator, trusted confidante, loyal combatant — but her poise was her real hallmark. Each day she arrived at the office completely focused, on task. She was in control. None of us doubted that. None of us wondered if she knew what she was doing, or why, or how. She exuded confidence. She had this. She had our backs — and yours. She took her responsibility to her adopted state, to her fellow Texans, as seriously as anyone I know.
People change jobs. People chase opportunities. If you’ve been in the rat race for any period of time, you know this happens. It doesn’t ease the pain — for you or the people you leave behind — but it’s the workplace equivalent of the circle of life. Emily’s and Amanda’s decisions to move on surely weren’t easy for them, but neither was it easy, I imagine, to leave the legacy newspaper business to join a fledgling digital news org. They were brave to come to the Trib and ProPublica way back when, and they’re brave to leave the Trib now to do their own thing. Really, they have no choice (and this I say from experience). When the startup bug bites, it bites hard.
The pride we feel in their accomplishments and their potential for even greater success as news entrepreneurs is why I’m happy as well as sad. Emily and Amanda will continue to be role models, leaders and path-breakers. We’ll all root for them hardest and loudest. I’ll root hardest and loudest of all. And I’ll be one of their first financial supporters.
Amanda’s last day with the Trib is Dec. 20. Emily’s is Jan. 3. Please join me in wishing them well — and look for job postings in the next couple of days as we begin our own next chapter.