October 15, 2019; Channel 3000
Two of the most impressive and best capitalized nonprofit journalism websites are collaborating on a new investigative unit focused on Texas.
ProPublica has made a practice of bringing its powerful investigative capacity into partnership with local sites. Some of these we have recently pointed out—series of stories about hospital billing practices and rural hospitals. However, this one stands out even among these efforts because of its scale.
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The Texas Tribune has been a bit of a different animal, focusing primarily on state politics in a venue where that is a blood sport. But, following a healthy infusion of funds from Arnold Ventures, a philanthropic effort run by John and Laura Arnold, this work is expected to be ongoing, with a first run of at least five years and 11 new staff to be hired.
“Texas is a target-rich environment for the investigative journalism of the kind we plan to do for the next five years,” Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith said to CNN Business. “We know Texas better than anyone. ProPublica knows investigative journalism better than anybody. In the commercial jingle, candy sense, this is two great tastes that taste great together.”
In the past, both organizations have been funded by the Arnolds, who themselves reside in Houston, so the $5.75 million they are investing now likely seems a well-informed bet. Laura Arnold says, “Texas is a big state and it needs big journalism to look under each cactus and behind every skyscraper.”—Ruth McCambridge