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: hello@thetylerloop.com.

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

We have a small favor to ask. Our reporting is powered entirely by our readers, who support The Tyler Loop by giving $15 a month. We turn your support into stories that explore fresh and unexpected questions about our city, help Tylerites make informed decisions about our future, and bring you diverse perspectives from across Tyler—perspectives you might not ever get to hear otherwise.

These stories take a lot of time, money, and effort to produce. If everyone who reads The Loop, loves The Loop, and believes we can create meaningful local change were to become a member, our future would be secure. That's why we need to ask for your help. With just $15 a month—the cost of a nice lunch—and 30 seconds to sign up, you can keep The Tyler Loop alive. Thank you.

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Tasneem Raja is the Executive Editor of The Tyler Loop, a nonprofit journalism startup that explores policy, history, and demographics in Tyler, Texas. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported for NPR, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mother Jones, and other national outlets. A former senior editor at NPR, she launched a popular podcast exploring issues of identity and race with NPR's Code Switch team. At Mother Jones, she specialized in data visualization and led a team that built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She's a pioneer in the field of data-driven digital storytelling, a frequent speaker on issues of digital journalism, and a die-hard fan of alt weeklies, where she got her start as a local reporter. She lives in Tyler with her husband, her stepson, and two imperious terriers.
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