A new approach to Texas journalism is getting cranked up, and you may want to have a look. It's the Texas Tribune, calling itself a "non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization," with promises to "promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern."
So far it looks like the effort will devote considerable energy to legislative and education issues.
Web sites and blogs come and go these days (as print newspapers limp off to oblivion), but the new "Trib," has some momentum going for it. First, the editor-in-chief and CEO is Evan Smith, who spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, stepping down in August as the magazine's president and editor. Second, the group has recruited an impressive stable of writers, who have begun to post some interesting blogs, particularly on public and higher education. Third, the project has received $750,000 in grants from Houston Endowment and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, just to get the operation rolling.
Since the advent of the Internet, media outlets have struggled to find a "business model" that works. Giant media companies such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are holding on, but some observers have maintained that the non-profit sector may need to step in.
Those who follow and care about the current downward spiral of public affairs journalism should be especially encouraged. The Trib's promotions insist that the new Web presence is not designed to replace local newspapers, but to help them, as local media outlets (even in the big cities) struggle to maintain solvency. State coverage of policy issues is particularly problematic.
At first blush, the Texas Tribune looks impressive. Watch for TCCTA blog posts utilizing this new source. Here's the link.