The Texas Tribune, the state’s go-to source for Texas politics and public policy news, is seeking a full-time reporter to cover law and courts.
This is an essential beat for a reporter who’s hungry and meticulous. You’ll cover, among other topics, federal and state courts and judges, class-action and civil impact litigation, the Texas attorney general, the four United States attorneys in Texas, and other state bodies, including the Supreme Court of Texas.
The Tribune does not cover everyday crimes or local police, though this reporter will be expected to dive in when major crimes occur that involve state and federal intervention — for example, mass shootings in public buildings; cross-border human trafficking; and certain hate crimes and acts of terrorism. In addition, the reporter should monitor district attorneys’ offices, particularly in jurisdictions that are rethinking their approach to policing and sentencing.
Our focus is on public policy and accountability, and this reporter will spend most of their time covering the law broadly — interviewing lawmakers, legal practitioners, scholars and judges; reading through cases and appeals; keeping track of court dockets; and explaining intricate areas of the law that are not well understood. These could include family law, estate and probate law (including the appointment of administrators to look after elderly or vulnerable people), intellectual property law, and bankruptcy law.
This reporter needs to be a consummate collaborator. They will work closely, for example, with our women’s health reporter (to cover litigation following the overturning Roe v. Wade) and our voting rights reporter (to cover the litigation over redistricting). They will also be needed to monitor closely the relationship between law and politics — for example, the activist legal groups that draft model legislation and then lobby lawmakers to enact.
America and Texas are at a point at which many matters that used to be decided by lawmakers instead head straight to judges, some of them elected, others appointed. This reporter will be expected to cover state judicial elections and also examine the integrity and backgrounds of these jurists.
The perfect fit for this position is an aggressive reporter and careful writer who loves the law in all its dimensions, is unafraid of diving into details, and is eager to get busy finding sources in the State Bar, in court chambers, at legal conferences and anywhere else. This position can be based in Austin, Dallas or Houston.
This position reports to the Senior Editor.
The salary for this position will vary depending on qualifications; the minimum is $65,000.
Provide aggressive, frequent coverage of all aspects of the law and judiciary, working closely with editors to prioritize the most important stories.
Be familiar with legal research tools like PACER, LEXIS and other databases.
Digest complex court rulings, briefs and memos and translate what is often highly technical language into clear, readable, English prose.
Collaborate with other beat reporters on areas where law and policy intersect.
Collaborate with our Audience, Multimedia, Data Visuals and Photo teams to ensure we have rich storytelling that addresses what Texans want and need.
Occasionally do radio or TV interviews on behalf of the Tribune, taking clear to present analysis, not opinion.
Occasionally interview speakers on panel discussions, for example at the Texas Tribune Festival.
All reporters and editors at The Texas Tribune are responsible for occasional evening, weekend and holiday work, as well as general assignment shifts as news demands.
BA/BS degree and 5+ years of relevant experience OR equivalent combination of education and relevant experience. A JD or master’s in legal studies is preferable but not required.
Experience covering law, politics and government.
Experience and a deep knowledge of Texas geography, politics and government is preferred, but not mandatory.
A clear ability to work quickly, and under tight deadlines
A deep commitment to and enthusiasm for enterprise reporting
Evidence of strong reporting, fact-checking and writing skills and a firm grasp of AP style
Strong familiarity with journalistic ethics and libel law
A clear desire and proven ability to collaborate with other colleagues across the organization
We know there are great candidates who won’t check all of these boxes, and we also know you might bring important skills that we haven’t considered. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself.
About The Texas Tribune
Here’s what you should know about the Tribune. From day one we’ve had disruption, innovation and risk-taking in our DNA. We’re ambitious as all get out but still have the punch-above-your-weight mentality of a scrappy start-up. We believe we can meet the demands of our audience and our own expectations for excellence without breaking the bank — or our staff. We understand not everything is a story for us — we have to make choices — but we’re always looking to expand our boundaries. We’re nonprofit because the challenging economic reality for media these days obligates us to find a different way, reliable and sustainable, to fund serious journalism. We’re nonpartisan because we live in the United States of Confirmation Bias — and we don’t need to be part of the problem. We don’t need to be yet another source of information affirming the voices and perspectives that are already in people’s heads. At the same time, nonpartisan is not non-thinking. We call B.S. when B.S. needs to be called.
All of us at the Trib believe the best way to achieve that mission is to resemble the state we cover. We’re committed to building an inclusive newsroom for people of all backgrounds and ages, and we’re taking steps to meet that commitment. We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply for this role, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.
The Texas Tribune office is located in downtown Austin, steps away from the Texas Capitol. This position is based in Austin, but we will consider candidates who are based elsewhere in Texas and can travel occasionally to our Austin office. We have colleagues in the organization that come into the office on a regular basis and colleagues that are based in various cities throughout the United States.
This job is full time and has the following benefits:
Medical, vision and dental insurance
A $50-a-month cell phone stipend
20 days of paid time off each year
12 paid holidays
Up to 16 weeks of paid family leave plus four weeks of additional job protection
Annual 401(k) match of $2,000
Support for professional training and career development
Remote working flexibility
How to Apply
Submit your application here by August 12, with a resume and five PDFs of your work, and a cover letter detailing your vision for this position and how you would approach the work. We can't wait to hear from you.
The Texas Tribune is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to diversity and building an inclusive environment for all, and we encourage applicants of all identities, backgrounds, ages, and abilities to apply. Learn more about The Texas Tribune here.