On the new Web site for an organization its founders are calling the Texas Tribune, there are no articles, no pictures and no ads. The site is slated to launch later in the fall, but for now, a banner asks visitors to “Become a Founding Member!”
The niche publication — the site plans to cover statewide politics, government and public policy — is experimenting with a non-profit model, hoping to dodge the lack of available outside investors.
If this sounds like the Lone Star State’s non-profit version of Politico, it is. So far, the publication has attracted reporters from El Paso Times, the Dallas Morning News and other newspapers across the state, all with extensive experience covering Texas politics. The Web site has also acquired Texas Weekly, a political newsletter.
Said Ross Ramsey, the former editor of the newsletter and the new managing editor for the Tribune:
The newspapers and TV have been shrinking and we’re hoping to expand it… It’s the current technology of news. It’s a whole different medium than we’ve had in journalism’s history and it’s the medium of choice right now. There’s a whole generation that is never going to get their news off the driveway, but [instead] get it off the screen.
Without the demands of generating revenue, the Tribune’s founder John Thornton said he hopes the site can feature the “best journalism in the world, without confusing profit motives with the provision of a public good.”
Instead, for only $50 according to the site, “you can be a Founding Member of the Tribune, forever listed as such on our web site.”
Maybe the vanity-motive won’t require ad revenue.