Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I’m coming out of the secret job closet. This fall, I’ll be joining Evan Smith at the all-new Texas Tribune, a non-profit investigative journalism outfit that could launch as early as November.

The decision means leaving KVUE-TV in late August. I gave notice yesterday with a heavy heart.

In 2006, I leaped at the opportunity to come home to Texas and cover state politics for the leading television station in town. It married the two goals I laid out as a child — television news and political journalism. In my time at KVUE, I got the honor of witnessing moments of sheer brilliance and true degeneracy. And being here in Austin has led to the richest relationships, most fulfilling work and fondest memories of my adult life.

Like the time mutiny broke out in the Texas House. Or the time I interviewed Barack Obama in a bathroom. Or that one time a political consultant chewed me out for being racist against Asian-Americans. (True story).

I never imagined doing anything else besides television news. Countless friends and mentors helped me along the way. The stations that employed me also shaped me — taught me how to tell compelling stories, challenged me to be a better journalist.

But news as we know it is changing. Has changed. Will change more. I feel that those of us who trade in information; who work in a field where information is our currency, must lead in using new forms of media to continue our trade. To enliven it. To enhance it. To keep it from going away.

So I’m joining my great friends, mentors, former competitors and, (as a total coincidence) the man I’m going to marry, in pioneering the new landscape of civic-minded, investigative, multi-platform political journalism. Texas Monthly president/executive editor Evan ‘Almighty’ Smith made the resignation heard ’round the journoworld when he stepped down to lead this new venture last week. It will allow me to continue doing what I love, but in all kinds of new and interesting ways.

The most salient lesson I’ve learned during this time of true uncertainty is this: journalism is no longer a lecture from the vaunted few who get to be gatekeepers. Journalism today is a conversation. The best thing news organizations can do is moderate the ongoing conversation and maintain our highest calling — being stewards of the truth, acting as the people’s watchdog. I am confident the team assembled will loyally serve our first and most important purposes.

Taking this leap requires some risk and a paradigm shift. But times of great upheaval can come with even greater opportunity. And I’m proud to say I don’t have to abandon journalism.

14 thoughts on “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  1. Elise: Congratulations on taking the plunge with this new venture. It sounds like a true ground-breaking opportunity, and I look forward to following your progress.

    The great unanswered question in this massive evolution (revolution?) of the media over the past few years has been this: What’s the new business model? In other words, just how will investigative journalism, which is vital to our democracy, be paid for? I hope that the Texas Tribune will show us the way, and that you will be a part of it all.

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  2. Congratulations, Elise!

    It is great to see the new wave of journalism — which is actually a return to the way journalism was (and should always) be done: responsive to people, and not corporations. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a rabble-rouser, but it’s true. I’m excited to see what you all do next!

  3. Congrats on the engagement (saw the pic of the ring at your old blog… tell Mr. Stiles he did an awesome job) and the new job. You’re lucky to have such an exciting opportunity in this market! šŸ™‚

  4. Wild week for you, Hu. Congratulations from D.C. to Austin and everywhere in between. You’re a consummate pro and a great friend. All luck to you.

  5. So proud! Truth-seekers everywhere should be excited about this idea. Can’t wait to see what kind of ass you guys kick. Way to go!

  6. Thanks so much, friends, for your votes of confidence and your words of encouragement. We all have great hopes for this project and I’ll be sharing the ups AND the downs with you. Thanks again.

  7. Elise, can’t think of many enterprises worth leaving KVUE for than a chance to build something new with Evan Smith. I heard you speak at the Austin SMC a few months ago and know your talents and passion will undoubtedly be a strong foundation for the Texas Tribune.

    Looking forward to seeing both you and the Tribune launch to new successes!

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