What makes you so different?
That’s among the questions, in one form or another, that I get asked the most by people interested in the Houston Landing.
It’s a necessary question. We’re new. There are other sources of news and information locally and beyond. We’re asking a lot of you — to talk to us, to read us and to support us. So naturally you want to know what makes us special enough for you to care.
We tackle this important question broadly on our website by talking about our mission. You’ll hear more from us on this in the months to come. But we can begin now by talking about three of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received so far in our founding.
Who is your competition?
This one is easy. The Landing is not competing with anyone — not the Houston Chronicle, local TV stations, or other statewide news organizations.
We don’t want to compete — we want to celebrate all journalism that is important for our community. That’s why at the end of our newsletters we highlight work from others. That’s why we promote their stories on our Twitter account — like this one by the Houston Press, this one from the Chronicle, this one at Houston Public Media.
We don’t want to compete — we want to collaborate. We hope to work together with news organizations on projects, investigations and other stories by sharing our resources and reporting.
We will provide our content for free to outlets that would like to republish it. The Texas Tribune, Reform Austin and the Victoria Advocate have already republished our first major investigation.
We believe that any work we can all do to increase the demand and consumption of quality journalism will help us all expand our reach and help the Houston region thrive.
At the Landing, we believe that the journalism we produce belongs to you first and foremost. It’s why that content will never require a subscription or sit behind a paywall. It’s why instead of competing, we believe in democratizing our journalism with as many partners as possible so it can be accessible to everyone.
What kind of stories won’t you do?
I wrote about the stories that we will generally focus on at the Landing when we officially launched a few weeks ago. But one thing people are often curious about is what stories we won’t do.
The answer to this one is a little more complicated.
We’ll never do the kind of stories described as “clickbait.” You know what those are. They lure you in with a catchy headline or some apparently explosive fact. After you read the article, you’re left feeling cheated because it was more sizzle and less substance.
We’re not going to write stories just because they are going viral on social media. We won’t obsess over the latest Twitter battle between a Texas lawmaker and an advocacy group.
We won’t write about politics as sport. We won’t focus on who’s up or down in the latest poll or fixate on candidate fundraising totals. We’ll write about politics as a function of democracy, a means of improving your life and as a vehicle for accountability reporting.
As I mentioned, our competition is not other journalists. Our greatest competition is your time. It’s valuable. We are not going to waste it with stories that don’t matter as much as the other more meaningful content we plan to provide you.
There are some subject areas that we won’t write about now, but we may as we grow such as sports and entertainment. We don’t plan on covering the daily developments of your favorite local sports team. We won’t write about the latest hot restaurant to open.
Frankly, many local news outlets excel at offering that kind of information. Our goal is to focus more on the gaps in news coverage like investigative reporting and coverage of our growing suburbs.
We will, however, have an arts and culture reporter who will write more broadly and in-depth on everything from the Houston Grand Opera to the latest trend that cements our city as a major food destination.
Will you cover breaking news?
We will cover breaking news when it really matters to the Houston region.
Will we write about multiple lanes of Interstate 45 being closed because of a wreck? No.
Will we cover a press conference about structural flaws in the design of a planned bridge construction? Of course.
Will we write about a thunderstorm warning issued for Harris County? No.
Will we write about a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf that could threaten southeast Texas? Definitely.
Will we write about an overnight home invasion? No.
Will we write about a string of unsolved home invasions in a particular neighborhood? Yes.
Public safety will be a critical subject at the Landing. We are devoting significant resources to report on this issue in a meaningful way.
How one defines what “really matters” is, of course, subjective. This is not an exact science.
We’re learning as we go, and we’ll surely make news coverage decisions that you may disagree with. And in some cases, we’ll make mistakes and try to learn from them.
We have an extraordinary mission here. We want to provide essential journalism that improves the lives of the 7 million people who call this place home. As a small but growing nonprofit start-up that means we will have to make careful choices.
One of those choices is working as hard as we can to produce stories that will have the most impact to the most people.