Media on Media

New female-centric Texas media outlet seeks to revolutionize American journalism

Female-centric Texas news outlet seeks to revolutionize journalism

The 19th logo
Johanna Derlega, Emily Ramshaw, Erinn Haines, Amanda Zamora, and Andrea Valdez make up The 19th. The 19th/Twitter

A new journalism endeavor is poised to shake up politics — and it's based right here in Austin. The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom, will devote itself to covering the intersection of politics and gender, an almost revolutionary perspective in today's increasingly polarized media landscape. 

Though the outlet officially launches later this year, its team — a powerhouse of veteran journalists— announced the news on Monday, January 27, in a 12-part tweet. 

Leading The 19th as CEO is Emily Ramshaw, former editor in chief of the Texas Tribune. Ramshaw co-founded The 19th long with Amanda Zamora, another Trib vet, who takes on the role of publisher. 

The name itself was inspired by the 19th amendment — the article that gave women the right to vote. As part of its mission, The 19th says it will abstain from editorial, opinion, and partisan stories, choosing instead to cover political and policy news with a "gender lens" offering "free-to-consume and free-to-republish journalism."

"The 19th’s goal is to empower women — particularly those historically underserved by American media — with the information, community and resources they need to be equal participants in our society" the outlet said on Twitter.

Even its logo, designed by Austin-based firm Page 33 Studio, reflects this ethos. The asterisk is meant to "remind us of those who have been omitted from our democracy." Much of this omission has been perpetuated by male-dominated newsrooms that skew largely white. According to a 2018 report by Columbia Journalism Review (and referenced among The 19th's launch tweets), 73 percent of the nation's top English-speaking newspapers have male editors, and 9 out of 10 of those newspapers' staff identify as white.

The outlet is still hiring many positions and is actively searching for diverse candidates in its quest for a diverse newsroom. Until it's fully operational this summer, Errin Haines, editor at large, will publish under The 19th's banner in the Washington Post.

Like the Texas Tribune, Ramshaw and Zamoria's former employer, The 19th will operate as a nonprofit, subsisting off of donations from both corporations and private donors. According to the Washington Post, one of the site's largest initial donations came from Kathryn Murdoch, wife of James Murdoch and daughter-in-law of Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News. 

“You need to have a very healthy media ecosystem in order to support a functioning democracy, and I look at everything we do as how do we find the actual crux of some of the problems rather than putting Band-Aids on them after they develop,” Murdoch told the Post of her reported $1 million pledge. 

The Post also reports Craiglist's founder Craig Newmark was among the initial backers.