On Thursday afternoon, when word came about the shootings that left 13 people dead atFort Hood,
just up the road from Austin, it seemed like a made-to-order test for
The Texas Tribune, a brand new 12-person Web-based newsroom.
They scrambled the jets, made plans, and then — stayed put.
The big coverage on the site, TexasTribune.org,
on Friday was not about the aftermath of the shootings, but the 50
highest paid state employees and an exclusive about a state
representative who had switched parties.
The Texas Tribune was
conceived and devised to cover the politics and policy of Texas state
government. During lunch on Friday at the Roaring Fork on Congress
Avenue in Austin, seven staff members recalled the previous day, when
the siren of a big story blew.
“We were all sitting around
talking excitedly about what we were going to do with it,” said Elise
Hu, who came to The Tribune from KVUE-TV. “And then you could see
Matt,” she said, indicating her colleague Matt Stiles next to her at
lunch, “was about to blow his stack.”
“It wasn’t our story.
Should we have just been one more news organization rushing to Fort
Hood? I don’t think so,” said Mr. Stiles, who joined the Web site from
The Houston Chronicle.
Now, they could have done the usual. Which would have been to climb onto the top of the giant pig fuck the story turned into, try to win the morning and the afternoon, fail to get anything the AP and the American-Statesman didn’t get, and then bitch in public about how awful pile-on journalism is and how hard it is to have to do it all the time but hey, what can you do? Instead they stood alone.
The trouble with doing that, of course, is that the world is blowing up on TV in front of you and the instinct, honed by years of abject stupidity, is to run towards the thing that’s on fire. I know the feeling well. It’s not always a bad idea. But when you’re wired for something else, have the guts to say that and stick to it. Be who you are and don’t be ashamed of it. The only thing makes people feel you’ve got something to apologize for is you apologizing.
Eventually, the story will come to where you’ve been all along and then you’ll be miles out front and nobody can catch you. Nobody gave a shit back in 2005 when Doug Feith was exposed by the liberal bloggers as the crook that he was, but boy was everybody interested when Congress finally came to the same conclusion two years later. Not only were we fucking right, we were fucking right way early and that gave us all a hell of a jump once the rest of the press caught up.