Looking forward to the future of journalism

Texas Tribune receives big grant, but Slate claims nonprofit journalism is flawed

Evan Smith (left) on Texas Monthly Talks, interviewing John Edwards.
Evan Smith (left) on Texas Monthly Talks, interviewing John Edwards.

There’s more news, interviews and criticism this week about the Texas Tribune, an ambitious nonprofit news site led by former Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith and venture capitalist John Thornton:

  • The Tribune announced today that it received a $750,000 grant from the Houston Endowment and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation;
  • Mallary Jean Tenore at the Poynter Institute interviewed the talented reporters at the Tribune who left traditional media jobs to take a chance at the nonprofit;
  • And Slate’s media critic, Jack Shafer, took a swipe at the growing philanthropic trend in journalism, arguing: “We’re substituting one flawed business model for another. For-profit newspapers lose money accidentally. Nonprofit news operations lose money deliberately. No matter how good the nonprofit operation is, it always ends up sustaining itself with handouts, and handouts come with conditions.”

    The Tribune’s primary benefactor, Thornton, responds to Shafer’s column by saying there’s a reason why philanthropists like him are writing big checks for journalistic ventures: “I think most of us want quality journalism. Just like I give money to Ballet Austin because I like to see artistic athleticism and pretty women.”

  • (Photo credit: mattwright on Flickr)