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Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
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Aug. 3, 2020, 8:19 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   August 3, 2020

The 19th, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to women and politics, has launched with a diverse and overwhelmingly female newsroom and publishing partners to bring its “politics and policy coverage through a gender lens” to a wider audience.

Cofounded by Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora, The 19th takes its name from the 19th Amendment, which, when ratified 100 years ago this month, granted women the right to vote. Their logo is marked with an asterisk to reflect that barriers to the ballot remained — and remain — for many nonwhite women.

The first (digital) front page led with a feature on the pandemic’s disproportionate economic effect on women (“America’s First Female Recession“) and a slate of election-related coverage, including interviews with potential vice presidential picks Susan Rice and Elizabeth Warren co-published with The Washington Post. The 19th has also cemented partnerships with USA Today Network (which will republish work across their 250 local news markets), Univision, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Early on, Ramshaw and Zamora (previously the editor-in-chief and chief audience officer of The Texas Tribune, respectively) knew they wanted a newsroom that “reflects the racial, ideological, socioeconomic and gender diversity of American voters.” As New York Magazine’s The Cut noted, 2020 might be the perfect year to build that diverse newsroom from the ground up: “While legacy media grapples with the fact that most employees are overwhelmingly white (77%) and male (61%) — and facing pandemic-fueled hiring freezes that make those statistics hard to change,” the 19th staff of 22 people is 91% female and 75% nonwhite.

The 19th also sought geographic diversity while hiring and counts residents of Philadelphia, Orlando, Des Moines, and New Orleans among its staff. Editor-at-large Errin Haines told The Cut that The 19th will cover women as “issues voters, as rural voters, as educated voters, as blue-collar workers, as Southerners, and as Midwesterners” — and not treat them as a monolith or single special-interest group.

Despite the pandemic throwing a wrench in just about every launch plan imaginable, Ramshaw and Zamora are starting out with a full staff and $8.5 million in donations — up from “nearly $5 million” in January . That includes $1 million from Kathryn Murdoch (who told The Cut that “her beliefs differ from her media-mogul family members”) and $500,000 from Craig Newmark (who gave after Ramshaw reached out with a cold email).

The 19th has adopted a nonprofit business model and will rely on donations, sponsorships for live events, digital advertising, and paid memberships starting at $19/year. At launch, The 19th counted 611 members giving between $5 and $999 and another 174 giving $1,000 or more.

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