Exciting news about The Loop

Dear friends of The Tyler Loop,

You haven’t heard much from The Loop since we wrapped up our Food, Drink, and Farming issue last month, and I wanted to tell you why:

I’ve spent the past few weeks traveling around the country sharing the story of our experiments with high-quality local journalism here in Tyler, and learning from successful independent local news startups like Charlottesville Tomorrow in Virginia, Texas’s own Texas Tribune, and City Bureau in Chicago.

There’s a national movement right now to figure out how to bring back local journalism—and make our democracy stronger in the process—and I’m happy to tell you that The Tyler Loop is increasingly at the forefront of these conversations. I was recently invited to share insights about our work at an American Press Institute summit in Nashville, and I wish you could all have seen the enthusiasm and excitement around our reporting projects, from our Robert E. Lee series to our taco tour to our data-driven storytelling. We’re clearly onto something here in Tyler, and people are noticing way beyond The Pine Curtain.

Since launching The Loop exactly one year ago (!!) as a volunteer project on nights and weekends, my co-founder Chris and I been absolutely blown away by you, our community: your intellectual curiosity, your passion for our city’s strengths and potential, your willingness to confront our city’s problems and consider solutions for a better, healthier, more inclusive Tyler. Tens of thousands of you have read our stories and shared them with your friends and families. You’ve told us what The Loop means to you, in long emails and Facebook messages and conversations at the coffeeshop. You want more from us, and we want to do much more for you—and with you.

So now, we have to turn this volunteer side project into an honest-to-goodness, sustainable business. We’re learning from places like The Membership Puzzle at NYU, which studies how nonprofit newsrooms like The Texas Tribune and ProPublica work with their audiences to support their journalism. We’re one of ten local newsrooms from around the country selected for year-long training on the future of digital advertising. And we’re starting to assemble a fantastic local board of directors with superpowers in business development and fundraising (among other things). It’s going to take every member of The Loop community to help us produce more high-quality, innovative, in-depth journalism for Tyler, and right now, we’re learning from the top minds in our field about how to make that work.

As you can imagine, all of this is taking up quite a bit of time—and that means we need to take some time before launching our next issue, which is all about The Future of Tyler. It’s going to be a great issue, and we can’t wait to bring it to you. In the meantime, if you’d like to talk about what we’re doing to make The Loop sustainable, please get in touch: tasneem@thetylerloop.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,
Tasneem Raja
Executive Editor
The Tyler Loop

P.s: I’ll be a keynote speaker at the first-ever East Texas Leadership Summit on May 18, and I hope to see you there. Registration is open now and open to everyone, and I have a feeling this event is going to shape our region for years to come. Details here, and don’t fail to say hello if you attend.

P.p.s: Want to stay updated on what’s happening with The Loop? Sign up for our newsletter.

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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