New news for Texas!

On November 3, a new Texas news website will be going “live.” Texas Tribune is promising to promote civic engagement by providing Texans with state-wide news.

Texas TribuneI think that everyone watching coverage of Texas politics has noticed the decline in coverage. Enrique Rangel, writing in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, notes that two decades ago some 60 reporters covered the Capitol while but fewer than 30 journalists covered the last session. While some people complain about journalists, we need as many eyes and ears in the Capitol as possible. The opinion writers and bloggers who increasingly dominate what passes for “news” today need actual facts and reporting behind their ramblings. Left to some people, the news business would be nothing more than people spouting uninformed opinion.

Texas needs as many real journalists covering their government as we can get. As much as it may irritate us to sometimes have our cozy assumptions about our favorite candidates and causes challenged, Texans can’t leave the government to monitor itself.

The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization. Their model is public radio/television. They will not accept advertising and will instead rely on contributions from readers (I’ve already contributed) and “underwriters” whose generosity will be mentioned on the site

The Texas Tribune could give Texas a focal point for reporting and debate. While a free press is necessary to hold government accountable, the press also need scrutiny. Politicians can not defend themselves from hundreds of small attacks. Countless rumors can circulate on the Internet and defy the ability of anyone to defend themselves. We need a media environment in which a corrupt state-wide official could be investigated and revealed by a credible source. We also need a setting where officials can face accusations and effectively defend themselves and clear themselves.

I’m hoping that Texas Tribune will fill the void left as the state’s newspapers and television stations cut back their reporting. It will definitely  be a news source to watch.

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