The holiday season is mostly behind us, but there’s still time to make a last few generous gifts before toasting — or cursing? — the arrival of 2020. Of course one of those gifts should be to The Texas Tribune! Your support of our nonprofit newsroom’s mission would be a great cap on a great year and a great first decade of public service journalism.
Yep, you've probably heard over and over that our nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news org turned ten this year — a milestone we can’t quite believe ourselves. Our premise in 2009 was that every community needs a news organization that searches for the truth and tells people what it finds, that every community needs a news organization that watchdogs people in power and institutions without regard to party or ideology, that every community needs a news organization that tees up for people in their busy lives the things important enough for them to stop and pay attention to. That’s still our premise today.
The crisis in local news is legit. We’ve all witnessed the decline in the number of reporters at our state capitol and the disappearance of venues for serious reporting about politics and policy issues. We all understand what it means for an important state like Texas, where so many of the country’s policy problems originate, to be a news desert. There are 29 million of us today, going to 54.5 million in 2050. We have 5 of the 13 largest cities in America, more than in any other state. Demographic inevitability is the through-line in every conversation.
And yet because increasingly we lack, in most places in Texas, a reliable source of news, Texans are too often checked out. Election cycle after election cycle our voter turnout has been at or near the bottom of the 50 states. (In fairness, in 2018 we showed some signs of life: We were 41st — a high water mark of late. Then again, who wants to be the kind of state where 41st in voter turnout is the good news?)
The mission of the Tribune has been and is to raise the level of engagement among our friends and neighbors. Civic purpose and civil discourse. A better Texas through better informed Texans. We’ve built a sustainable model — no fear or risk aversion, no legacy baggage, a diverse mix of revenue sources — to produce and distribute explanatory and accountability journalism.
We can do this — not just in Texas but elsewhere, scaled and tailored for wherever elsewhere is. Not every news org has to be as big as the Tribune. Our budget’s big because Texas is big. Not every news org has to do it this exact way. We do it this way because this way works in Texas. What works in Oregon or Maine or Tennessee works in those places. The folks there can and should figure it out for themselves, but we stand ready to help — sharing best practices, offering support and encouragement, and coaching and mentoring them when we can because we’re all in this together.
*We’re all in this together.* The future of our democracy depends on the ability of news organizations like ours — disruptive, innovative, transformational — to give people the means to be more thoughtful and productive citizens. As we head into our second decade, we've never been more motivated to do our part.
I still believe in everything we do at The Texas Tribune. If you believe too, join us. Go here to give. Thanks!