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From Texas Monthly to Texas Weekly: Evan Smith Picks Up Experienced Staff For New Venture

tx tribune.pngAfter announcing his departure from Texas Monthly just last week, Evan Smith made his first big move as incoming CEO of new online news venture the Texas Tribune today with the acquisition of Texas Weekly, a newsletter covering the state’s government and politics.

When the Tribune launches this fall, Texas Weekly subscribers will begin to receive a new weekly publication that will include “premium content not available to regular readers of the Tribune,” the company said. Texas Weekly‘s archives will be added to the Tribune’s Web site, allowing users to search past articles.

The acquisition of Texas Weekly is just the latest news in Texas Tribune’s growth. Today, Smith named Texas Weekly‘s Ross Ramsey managing editor of the Tribune and said five other reporters had also been brought in to the Tribune’s newsroom: Brandi Grissom, Elise Hu, Emily Ramshaw, Abby Rapoport, and Matt Stiles.

Following Smith’s announcement that he was leaving Texas Monthly, where he had served as editor since 2000 and editor-in-chief and president since September, more information came to light about his new venture, the Texas Tribune. The Web site, which is scheduled to launch in September, will be a “non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization whose mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on the public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide interest,” the company says. The organization will publish original news and reporting online and events like conferences and panels. It is to be funded primarily through philanthropy, much like ProPublica and the Huffington Post‘s Investigative Fund.

The full release about the new hires after the jump.

Earlier: Longtime Texas Monthly Editor To Launch Nonprofit News Site


TEXAS TRIBUNE ACQUIRES TEXAS WEEKLY, APPOINTS ROSS RAMSEY MANAGING EDITOR

FIVE NEWSROOM HIRES ALSO ANNOUNCED

Austin, TX 00 July 23, 2009 — Incoming Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith announced today that the non-profit public media organization has acquired Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter for government and politics in Texas, and has hired longtime Texas Weekly editor and owner Ross Ramsey as its managing editor. Smith also formally announced the hiring of the first five reporters on the Tribune’s newsroom team: Brandi Grissom, Elise Hu, Emily Ramshaw, Abby Rapoport, and Matt Stiles.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to attract journalists of such high caliber,” says Smith, “as each one brings incredible experience and perspective on matters of statewide interest, along with a high level of energy and passion and ambition. I couldn’t imagine a better foundation for the kind of work we intend to produce.”

Before taking over Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey spent twenty-eight months as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications in the office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. From 1991 to 1996, the West Texas native reported on state politics and policy from the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau. From 1986-1991, he was a reporter on the business desk and in the Capitol bureau of the Dallas Times Herald, eventually serving as the paper’s Austin bureau chief. He has also been a radio reporter in Dallas and Denton.

“Ross is one of the two or three best-respected reporters at the Capitol,” Smith says. “He’s fair, scrupulously nonpartisan, whip-smart, and crafty in the way he pries information out of sources. He’s also funny as hell, which makes him a great story-teller. That’s why we’ve asked him to write and report as well as lead our newsroom.”

In acquiring Texas Weekly, the Tribune will give its readers access to the venerable publication’s vast archives — a searchable electronic trove of stories dating back to the early 1990s that amounts to a modern history of Texas politics. Upon the Tribune’s launch this fall, current Texas Weekly subscribers will receive, for the duration of their subscriptions, a new weekly publication featuring premium content not available to regular readers of the Tribune.

Grissom joins the Tribune after four years at the El Paso Times, where she has been a one-woman Capitol bureau during the last two legislative sessions. Grissom won the Associated Press Managing Editors 1st place award in 2007 for using the Freedom of Information Act to report stories on a variety of government programs and entities. She previously worked for the daily paper in her hometown of Alliance, Nebraska, the Alliance Times-Herald, and has reported for the Taylor Daily Press, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and the Associated Press. She has a degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was managing editor of the student-run Daily Texan.

Hu has been the state political reporter for Austin’s ABC affiliate, KVUE-TV, since 2006. She has been recognized by the Associated Press’ Texas bureau three years in a row for her beat reporting on state politics and has been cited by the Austin Chronicle as “The Best TV Reporter Who Can Write.” Her “Political Junkie” blog was listed as one of WashingtonPost.com’s top Texas political blogs. A native of Plano, she has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri.

Ramshaw spent the last six years as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, first as a city hall reporter, then as the state investigative reporter. In April, she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Before working for the News, Ramshaw interned at the Boston Globe, Costa Rica’s Tico Times, and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. A native of Washington, D.C., Ramshaw has a B.A. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Rapoport, a Williamsburg, Virginia, native, interned for TEXAS MONTHLY during the 2009 legislative session, covering the House under the tutelage of Paul Burka, the magazine’s senior executive editor and the co-author of its Best and Worst Legislators feature. She previously served as a writing fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, in Washington, D.C, and wrote for Glamour magazine’s Glamocracy blog during the Iowa caucus in the 2008 presidential election cycle. She has a degree in history from Grinnell College, where she was editor-in-chief of the student-run Scarlet and Black newspaper.

Stiles spent the last four years at the Houston Chronicle, where he wrote about government and politics with a focus on computer-assisted reporting. While there, he won the newspaper’s Jesse Award for service journalism and beat reporting and was its reporter of the year in 2007. Before joining the Chronicle’s staff, Stiles worked as a reporter for nearly four years at The Dallas Morning News. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, he has a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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