T-Squared: We spent months crafting a strategic plan for The Texas Tribune’s future. Here’s why.

Illustration by Emily Albracht
Illustration by Emily Albracht

It’s dangerous to quote Winston Churchill these days, but the great man once said, “To improve is to change.” All of us at The Texas Tribune know this well. For the last year-plus, we’ve been engaged in the most important collaborative exercise of our nine years in existence: an effort to craft a strategic plan that lays out, in thoughtful detail, the changes that will make our civic-minded, public-spirited, mission-driven, nonpartisan, nonprofit news org even better than it already is — the steps we’ll take to propel us forward from here to 2025 and beyond.

Every single member of our staff, and many good souls in the extended Trib family, contributed time, toil and brain power to the finished product, which we publish today so our readers, stakeholders, and friends and partners in the media ecosystem can see where all this hopefully leads. It’s a long read, and (point of personal privilege) it’s a good read. It identifies four key priorities on the road ahead — audience growth, membership conversion, technology investment and revenue generation — and enumerates precisely how we’ll realize our ambitious vision. Already we’re making progress: I’m pleased to tell you that the Trib is on track to have, according to every conceivable metric, its finest year ever, and our strategic planning process rightly gets partial credit.

This is a complicated moment for our industry. Success is not guaranteed even to those who work the hardest and the smartest. Every day we and our colleagues across the country confront a new normal: public distrust and official condemnation, an expanded competitive set that blurs the line between real and fake news, a blindingly fast-changing tech landscape, and — most problematically — business model challenges that imperil even the best of the best. Not that it ever was, but in 2018, running in place is not an option. Doing the same thing over and over simply because it works, and especially if it only sort of works, is not a strategy. The only way forward is forward.

We say in the introductory section of this plan that there is no better time to be doing this work. We might have added “no more important.” We also say there is no better place to do it than Texas. Can I get an amen? This wonderful, nutty, lovable, frustrating, original, beautiful state provides more than its share of opportunities for amazing storytelling and world-changing journalism. We pledge, now and for all time, to leverage those opportunities in a way that does justice to our beloved home.

Every strategic plan is a subjective document. You may agree with our assumptions and conclusions, and you may not. Regardless, we hope you’ll tell us what you think. And if you have questions, join our editor-in-chief, Emily Ramshaw, and me for a Q&A in our Facebook group, This is Your Texas, at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Friends, frenemies, foes, first-timers: This is also your Texas Tribune. We’re doing this for you. You’ve gotten us here, and you’ll get us to where we go next. Thanks. Onward to the future!



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