KUT listeners are more connected to news happening across the state – including under-served areas, such as the border – thanks to The Texas Newsroom, a collaboration between public radio newsrooms across Texas, and NPR, that digs deep into the most important stories in Texas.
Announced in September, The Texas Newsroom is comprised of reporters and editors from the state’s four largest public radio stations — KUT in Austin, KERA in Dallas, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, and Houston Public Media — who plan statewide coverage and share resources.
KUT listeners can hear stories from The Texas Newsroom during six live, statewide newscasts, including the Texas Roundup during Texas Standard, each weekday. Additional reporting from The Texas Newsroom airs during Texas Standard at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays.
“We have several strong newsrooms in Texas covering their local communities,” explains Rachel Osier Lindley, who serves as a senior editor for The Texas Newsroom out of KERA. “There are also trends and connections between our communities that have broader, statewide implications. By collaborating and working together, we can tap the collective reporting might of our stations and create deeper, more compelling journalism for Texans.”
As Texas Goes, So Goes the Nation
The stations that make up The Texas Newsroom came together four years ago after KUT Austin launched Texas Standard to form the Texas Station Collaborative, an innovative, industry-leading partnership, which, with the addition of NPR, is now The Texas Newsroom.
Since then, NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have made significant investments in The Texas Newsroom, which is a prototype for future station collaborations around the country, such as Ohio or the Gulf States region.
“The Texas Newsroom is the first step in our collaborative journalism project that, when fully developed, will make public radio the strongest reporting network in the country and fill the newsgathering gaps that widen every day,” said Nancy Barnes, senior vice president of news and editorial director for NPR, in the September announcement.
The Texas Newsroom works with an NPR liaison who is a direct link between the Texas stations and the NPR network. The NPR liaison talks daily with Texas Newsroom editors about Texas news that may be of interest to a national audience on Morning Edition, All Things Considered or Here and Now.
Increasingly, what happens in Texas drives the narrative around the country – from shifting demographics, to education, to immigration, to energy.
“Texas is a bellwether for the country,” says Lindley. “The stories we’re reporting here can provide valuable context for a national audience – and it should be our Texas-based journalists telling those stories on radio and digital platforms everywhere.”
Broader, Deeper Coverage
While delivering broader statewide coverage to listeners, The Texas Newsroom also frees up station resources to focus on more distinctive, in-depth local reporting.
Six daily statewide newscasts highlighting the big Texas stories of the day air on public radio stations across Texas. Those are the two-minute news updates you hear from Houston Public Media’s Sascha Cordner, Texas Public Radio’s Lauren Terrazas, and KUT’s Joseph Leahy.
“Organizing reporting resources across Texas allows us to deliver more of what’s happening across the state on the air and through digital channels, while freeing up station journalists to do more in-depth reporting at the local level,” said Debbie Hiott, KUT’s executive director and general manager when The Texas Newsroom launched.
The stations are working to increase coverage from under-served regions of the state and have added two journalists to the effort this year.
Texas Public Radio recently hired Reynaldo Leaños Jr. to work in the Rio Grande Valley and report on migrant and border issues. You may have heard his stories during Texas Standard. Journalist Mallory Falk, in El Paso, joined the Texas Newsroom this summer and played an instrumental role in covering the Walmart shooting for Texas stations – as well as for NPR.
The next big step is building out a robust network of freelance journalists in the state’s news deserts.
“As we build out the newsroom, we’ll have more editors in place to corral long-term projects and original investigative reporting,” Lindley adds.
Ultimately, this collaboration and coordination at the state level gives local journalists more time and flexibility to work on the original in-depth, investigative reporting in their communities for which public radio is known – while creating a channel to share more Texas stories with a national audience via NPR.