Texas Tribune to refine its model for sustainability in nonprofit news with $1.5 million in funding from Knight Foundation

Press Release

April 15, 2013


AUSTIN, TEXAS (April 15, 2013) –The Texas Tribune will refine its model for sustainable local journalism and hire business analysts to explore new revenue models with $1.5 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Since its founding in 2009, the Tribune, a nonprofit online news organization, has built a sound financial base, going beyond philanthropic support to gain revenue from corporate sponsorships and its signature events. Building on this success, one-third of the Knight grant, or $500,000, will allow the Tribune to hire two fellows who will examine the creation of premium content for specific audiences and explore new revenue streams. The Tribune team will then write about their experiences and the successes of similar ventures on a new web site, sharing lessons and best business practices with nonprofit news organizations and other media observers. The balance of the grant, $1 million, will go to shoring up the Tribune’s working capital to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Knight Foundation supported the initial launch of the Tribune, with the goal of developing new models for nonprofit news in an environment where traditional local journalism is rapidly downsizing. A Knight study, “Going Local” released in October 2011, which profiled eight leading nonprofit news ventures, including the Texas Tribune, offered a preliminary roadmap for establishing such a model. The current grant to the Tribune is an extension of those efforts, advancing the creation of a more targeted sustainability framework.

“Since its launch three-and-a-half years ago, the Texas Tribune has shown the vision, tenacity and adaptability that is needed to build a thriving news organization,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation. “Our investment will help them build on that progress and spread their lessons and best practices throughout the field.”

“We will use this funding to further our goal of sustainability and to help evangelize the cause to other nonprofit news organizations and philanthropists,” said John Thornton, founder of The Texas Tribune.  “This partnership gives us the chance to advance the Knight Foundation’s goal of supporting the sustainability of independent online news organizations and sharing the lessons learned across the industry.”

Applications for the fellowships are being accepted starting April 15, 2013. The fellows will join the Tribune for 12 to 18 months to supplement its management team’s efforts to realize the objectives of the grant. Applicants should have significant experience in both business analysis and media. For more information, please visit: www.texastribune.org/jobs/tribune-fellows

About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public media organization whose mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide interest. In its first three years of operation, the Tribune has won significant national recognition, including four Edward R. Murrow awards, a Knight-Batten award for innovations in journalism and a General Excellence award from the Online News Association. For more information on The Texas Tribune, please visit texastribune.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.


Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, [email protected]

Elaine Garza / [email protected] / 512.382.9017