The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
The Tribune was founded in 2009 by John Thornton (a venture capitalist in Austin for nearly 20 years and passionate believer in public media), Evan Smith (the veteran editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly and host of a weekly interview program on PBS stations), and Ross Ramsey (former owner and editor of Texas Weekly, the state’s premier newsletter on politics and government, now rebranded as The Blast).
The Texas Tribune and its destination website were launched in November 2009, thanks to $4 million in private contributions as seed funding.1
The Tribune, which has the largest statehouse news bureau in the United States, covers a full range of topics including public and higher education, health care, immigration, criminal justice, energy, poverty, the environment, water, transportation — pretty much every line in the state budget. They facilitate a statewide conversation about these topics on the op-ed site, TribTalk. They provide content, for free, to print, radio and television news organizations throughout the state, and nationally in partnership with The Washington Post.
The Tribune has become an authoritative source for providing user-friendly databases of public information in Texas. Reporters and software engineers collaborate to present a full picture for readers, giving them the tools to be more thoughtful, productive and engaged citizens. Examples include government salaries database, U.S. Senate fundraising tracker, analysis of state demographics and a look at the capacity of shelters for migrant children.
Each year they host 50-plus on-the-record, open-to-the-public live events — on college campuses, in community centers and everywhere in between — at which public officials, policy wonks and newsmakers answer for the work they’re doing and how they’re spending tax dollars. Events are often available via livestream video, for those who can’t attend in person, and following the conversation they publish and archive video online. The Texas Tribune’s signature annual event, The Texas Tribune Festival, attracts thousands of attendees to downtown Austin to learn about Texas’ biggest challenges and to engage in thoughtful discussion about their respective solutions. Decision-makers, industry leaders and community activists from near and far come to take part in this three-day event.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Texas Tribune is supported by individual contributions and membership (click here to join), major gifts, corporate sponsorships, events and foundation grants.