T-Squared: The Tribune is expanding to cover more of Texas

Clockwise from top left: Spectators at the McAllen Holiday Parade in South Texas; workers at a fracking rig on the Fasken Oil and Ranch site in Midland in the Permian Basin; Kambry Cox and her daughter at a park in Tatum in East Texas; fans at Texas Tech Universitys homecoming game against West Virginia in Lubbock in the South Plains. (Verónica G. Cárdenas, Jerod Foster, Justin Rex And Eddie Gaspar For The Texas Tribune, Verónica G. Cárdenas, Jerod Foster, Justin Rex And Eddie Gaspar For The Texas Tribune)

The Texas Tribune will expand its award-winning coverage of Texas politics, public policy and government with a regional reporting initiative.

The Tribune’s new regional initiative will support original reporting from the East Texas, Panhandle-South Plains, Permian Basin and Rio Grande Valley regions, bringing forward the diverse experiences of families and individuals across these regions and showing the regional disparities in the impacts of decisions made in Austin. The initiative will also elevate stories that might otherwise go untold and amplify those stories to a statewide and national audience, as well as to lawmakers, regulators and other decision-makers in Austin.

“Texas is so immense that to cover it well is more like covering a nation than a state,” said Sewell Chan, the editor-in-chief of the Tribune. “Since 2009, we’ve established a strong foundation as a premier source of news about state government, politics and policy in Texas. Improving our coverage of Texas’ varied regions is an important next step. By expanding our presence across the state, we will also better reflect the diversity of Texans and their communities.”

The Tribune has regularly brought attention to issues facing Texans in these regions, reflecting the nonprofit news organization’s commitment to telling the story of Texas’ future. For example, Tribune reporters have covered the limited availability of broadband service, which became a prominent issue throughout the height of the pandemic. The Tribune also continues to host the Rural Texas Symposium, bringing stakeholders together to discuss the major challenges and opportunities for the state’s rural communities.

Deploying reporters across the state isn’t a new concept to the Tribune. In addition to Austin, the Tribune currently has reporters living and working in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio and Washington, D.C. In the Tribune’s nearly 13-year history, its journalists have traveled to communities across the state and beyond for long periods of time to bring Texans the news they need. Examples of such efforts include the Tribune’s coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the separation of migrant families at the border.

The regional reporting initiative is built on partnerships with the community and the local media. Regional reporting will lean on local sources and tips, and reporters will seek to team up with local outlets to pursue stories that help empower communities. Content produced through the Tribune’s regional reporting initiative will be free for all to access at the destination website, texastribune.org. Additionally, regional reporting will be free for Texas news outlets to republish, helping regional newsrooms supplement their vital local coverage. In recent years, the republishing of Texas Tribune stories by local media has increased significantly, with Tribune stories appearing on 422 front page print editions of Texas newspapers statewide in 2021.

To bring this regional initiative to life, the Tribune is hiring several journalists, including a dedicated regional editor. This initiative will launch in June with the hiring of a Panhandle-South Plains reporter based in Lubbock and funded in partnership with Report for America. An East Texas reporter will be added this summer, funded in part by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, and the regional editor will be hired with support provided by The Meadows Foundation and the Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, as well as other generous donors. The Tribune is in the process of securing funding for new positions in the Rio Grande Valley and the Permian Basin.

“The Texas Tribune is committed to the premise that free, high-quality state and local journalism will help to bring about a healthier, better educated, more productive and more engaged Texas,” said Terry Quinn, the Tribune’s chief development officer. “We’re grateful to all of our supporters for their generosity and hope that more donors will join us to support this vital mission.”

In 2018, The Texas Tribune outlined its commitment to fully reflect the diversity of our state in the organization’s strategic plan. The establishment of this initiative is an important step toward this ambitious goal.