Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updated: No News. Is that Good News?

I tried taking a gander at the new Texas Tribune media venture since they announced a recent launch via Facebook, Twitter, and they also won't stop calling me.

In any case, I am an FB'er and a Twitterer so I have been reading many messages from and about the Tribune and the new staff. They are doing a lot of hiring these days and their happy employees keep living their fabulous Austin lives (and being all chismosa, too) while the rest of us anticipate the news from the Texas Tribune.

But I can't find the news
. Where is it? If the publication has launched, shouldn't they be working, filing reports and whatnot? And if they are doing that stuff, how do we know it? I guess we can make the whole world "friend" or "follow" Stiles, Ramshaw & Elise Hu, then we'll know that they made open records requests and that they are, indeed, working.

There are links on the Texas Tribune to news stories from other media sources about the Texas Tribune, but there are no actual Texas Tribune news stories to read or view on the website.

And by the way, some people (like Tacho) think that having a 98% white staff is less than representative of the population of Texas. There are lots of people of color in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast. I have to wonder if the Texas Tribune plans on covering issues that affect these regions because it is necessary for to have bilingual, multicultural staff to effectively cover the diverse communities of Texas. I know several journalists who would be great additions to any media company. But it seems to me that there isn't much of anything to join just yet.

If there is no news reporting, maybe they are not fully functional. I'm intrigued, I must say, but as a certified news junkie they sound kinda ... not ready. They may need more time, which is completely fine, but why the build-up? Why only news releases about themselves, and why are they asking people for money?

They have this interesting offer on the front page of the website in which they compare themselves to NPR and PBS. So what's the offer? You get the opportunity to become a "Founding Member" of the Texas Tribune for the low, low price of $50. Mkay!

Is Matt Stiles going to put on a bird costume and teach my niece Avery her A-B-C's? Is Emily Ramshaw going to attach herself to the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they head to Iraq later this year? PBS gives us a pretty good bang for their donors' & taxpayers' buck. NPR goes into war zones. We know they do good work. And the reporters at the new Tribune have stellar reputations for their excellent reporting. That's not the issue.

The issue is that there are no issues, yet, so what's in it for us?

That's a fair question, I think.

Update: As Helen Slater said in the Legend of Billy Jean: "Fair is fair!" Below are comments sent to me by Matt Stiles in response to my post:
1. we need time to get the operation up and running, so that's why we're not publishing until november. it takes time to build a web site and buy computers and get the phones working, etc.

2. our staff isn't 98-percent white. our technology director, higinio, is mexican. elise is chinese. others speak spanish. we're not as diverse as i'd like, of course, but consider the reporters in the austin bureau staffs of the major papers in texas. they are ALL white. that's a general journalism problem, not a tribune problem. who are these journalist we should be considering, btw? we'll consider them.

3. we're raising money because we're a non-profit newsroom. that's the point. we want to do public-interest journalism and not worry about advertising revenues declining the way they are at newspapers.
Points well taken. Thanks to Matt for his response.

1 comment:

E said...

We haven't launched the news site yet. Only getting ready for it... it comes out Nov 3rd, when there should be plenty of news for you to devour. Thanks woman!