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Key links:
Primary website:
texastribune.org
Primary Twitter:
@texastribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit online news organization based in Austin, Texas, that focuses on political and civic issues.

The site was founded in 2009 by venture capitalist John Thornton and former Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith. Thornton raised $4 million in startup funds for the site, including $1 million of his own money and $750,000 in grants from the Knight Foundation and Houston Endowment.

The Tribune is also supported by about 3,000 donating members, as well as corporate sponsors and dozens of both free and paid public events, on which it was on track to make $1.2 million in 2013. The site started with 16 staff members, including 11 journalists (it had grown to a staff of 50 and 18 full-time reporters by 2014), and a $1.6 million budget. The Tribune was profitable for the first time in 2012. By 2011, the site had raised $3.7 million and spent $4 million. It had raised about $11.8 million in total by early 2012, with a budget of $4.2 million.

In March 2011 the Tribune and The Bay Citizen were awarded a $975,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to develop an open source content management system specifically for news organizations. It received another $1.5 million grant from Knight in 2013 to refine its business model. All told, the Tribune had raised almost $11 million through January 2012. It projected $4.5 million in revenue for that year and was profitable. As of 2014, just more than half of its revenue came from corporate sponsorships and live events, with another 17% from individual donations, 17% from foundations, and 12% from memberships.

In 2014, the Tribune launched TribTalk, an opinion website that is also home to the organization’s native advertising program. The Tribune also owns Texas Weekly, a small weekly online political newsletter founded in 1984. The newsletter brings in revenue to cover about 15 percent of the Tribune’s expenses, and Thornton has mentioned plans to launch similar specialty publications.

The Tribune publishes its stories primarily on its website, though they are also available free to other Texas news outlets.

The Tribune has been involved heavily in social media and data journalism, initiatives for which it earned praise at its launch. In May 2010, Smith reported that the Tribune’s databases were responsible for more than a third of its 5.3 million page views after six months. For 2012 the site reported 5.7 million unique visitors and 40 million page views.

About the Tribune

Interview with former reporter Elise Hu:

Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
Dec. 18, 2014 / Justin Ellis
New friends: The Washington Post and The Texas Tribune enter into a new reporting partnership — The Texas Tribune is taking its split with The New York Times pretty well. Two months ago the Times ended its story-sharing agreement with the Austin-based news nonprofit after four years. Now, the Tribune has a new danc...
Dec. 17, 2014 / Joseph Lichterman
How Philly’s Billy Penn is building a local news audience from scratch — HILADELPHIA — Armed with a Kindle Fire tablet, Anna Orso stood just inside the front door of an Irish pub last Monday night welcoming guests to a happy hour in Center City, Philadelphia. She asked the same question to...
Nov. 13, 2014 / Ken Doctor
The newsonomics of Talking Points Memo’s native advertising shift — Call it addition by subtraction, or deduction over misdirection. The commercial progress of Talking Points Memo is a telling lesson in the maturation of digital native news companies. TPM was born very much a blog, one o...
Nov. 3, 2014 / Justin Ellis
The Texas Tribune is 5 years old and sustainable. Now what? — The newsroom of The Texas Tribune is buzzing in the waning days of the 2014 election. Covering political contests takes a kind of muscle memory, something the nonprofit news site has accumulated since it first appeared i...
Sept. 15, 2014 / Joshua Benton
Like it or not, native advertising is squarely inside the big news tent — “There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers. You might think that the public would resent this trick...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 15, 2014.
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