The Tyler Loop is back — and we’ve got some big plans up our sleeves

Promotional postcard published by East Texas Engraving Company, circa 1940

Hello, friends of The Tyler Loop!

Good news: we’re kicking off the next stage of The Tyler Loop from our shiny new headquarters in the Azalea District (a.k.a the front room of our new house).

Here’s the scoop on our big plans for 2018:

When we launched The Loop last spring, it was essentially a gamble. We weren’t sure if there was an audience in Tyler for the deep, challenging stories we wanted to tell — stories about what’s beautiful and thriving in Tyler, and also stories about much-needed change. But as journalists used to working on the national stage, we felt pushed by new political realities to put our skills to work here in our own backyard. So, we thought, let’s give it a shot. We bought a web domain, broke out our reporter’s notebooks, and started filing a whole lot of public record requests.

Six months after our launch, we took a hard look at your reactions to our stories — especially our profiles of undocumented East Texas, our timeline of Robert E. Lee High School, our Taco Tour, and our By The Numbers investigations. We’ve been blown away by your enthusiasm and interest in our reporting. We are firmly convinced that there is real appetite in Tyler for The Loop’s unpredictable, uncompromising brand of local journalism — and that appetite is not going away.

We also feel inspired to keep going because so many of you have asked how you can pitch in and help keep The Loop alive. We’re now exploring a number of new organizational and funding possibilities, and you’ll hear more about that in the coming months. In the meantime, you’ll see us experiment more with in-person community events — think meet-ups, panels, and townhalls — and, we hope, interesting collaborations with local and statewide journalism outlets.

We’re also trying something new with our reporting. Starting this month, we will be publishing The Loop as a series of digital “issues,” each obsessively exploring a single theme. We chose this year’s themes based on our own curiosities, hopes, and concerns about Tyler, which we know many of you share: the environment, urban planning, Tyler’s food and drink scene, East Texas’s messy histories, and — especially this year — voting.

For our first issue, which we’ll publish one story at a time throughout January and February, we’re diving into food, drink, and farming in Tyler: Why does Tyler have so many chain restaurants? How can our local indie foodie scene go to the next level? What are some of the best drinks in town? Got a burning curiosity or a delicious idea for a story? Tell us: [email protected].

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your interest in The Tyler Loop. We’re glad you’re along for the ride.

With gusto,

Tasneem Raja and Chris Groskopf, co-founders, The Tyler Loop

Thanks for reading this story. Just one more thing. If you believe in the power of local journalism here in Tyler, I'm hoping that you'll help us take The Loop to the next level.

Our readers have told us what they want to better understand about this place we all call home, from Tyler's north-south divide to our city's changing demographics. Power, leadership, and who gets a seat at the table. How Tyler is growing and changing, and how we can all help it improve. Local arts, culture, entertainment, and food.

We can't do this alone. If you believe in a more informed, more connected, more engaged Tyler, help us tell the stories that need to be told in our community. Get free access to select Loop events, behind-the-scenes updates about the impact and goals of our work, and, above all, a chance to play a part in bringing more fresh, in-depth, unexpected journalism to Tyler.

Support The Tyler Loop

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Tasneem Raja is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oaklandside. A pioneer in data journalism and local nonprofit news startups, she co-founded The Tyler Loop, a nationally recognized community news platform in East Texas. She was a senior editor at NPR's Code Switch and at Mother Jones, where the team she led helped built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She started her career as features reporter at The Chicago Reader and The Philadelphia Weekly, and lives in Oakland with her husband and two imperious terriers.