The Texas Tribune is gearing up for their fifth annual Texas Tribune Festival, a three-day long gathering taking place in Austin, Texas October 16-18, 2015, and featuring some of Texas’ and the nation’s political elite.
The festival, organized by director Tanya Erlach, will include keynote addresses, panel discussions and networking events. Texans will have the opportunity to listen in on 11 tracks with over 200 speakers, who will discuss a wide range of political topics including energy, environment, immigration, transportation, education and more.
“It’s not just about coming to listen to politicians speak,” said Erlach. “It’s about getting to know representatives, having conversations among neighbors or with someone with a different opinion on issues. We try to foster an environment where there can be an exchange of ideas.
The Texas Tribune continues to attract attendees each year by adding special programs to the event or bringing in notable public figures. Politicos such as Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Democratic Leader, and Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are just a few who will take the stage at this year’s event.
Pelosi and Castro are part of the festival’s new national keynote track and will focus on national issues that affect Texas, as well as the upcoming presidential election. In addition, the Tribune is featuring a student program this year, in which student reporters will be able to interview high-profile speakers to which they usually would not have access.
While planning the festival’s program, organizers chose track and session topics based on the news content readers were most interested in reading on the Tribune’s site. Erlach noted that while the national keynote track is a feature of the festival attendees are excited about, she also shared the sessions she is looking forward to.
“I’m interested in ‘America’s place in the world,’ and ‘Can the center hold?,’” said Erlach. “But I’m also particularly interested in the immigration topic, which is relevant this year more than ever because of presidential candidates wanting to lock in the Hispanic vote.”
Although The Texas Tribune has been around for five years, it has made its mark in the news industry and is known for its reputation as a national model for nonprofit news. Erlach said the news site’s credibility within the media industry is part of the reason their festival is a grand event.
“One other reason is that we’re one of the few nonprofit news sites that have been able to continue to operate successfully,” said Erlach. “We’re self-sustaining and we’ve managed to be in the right room with the right people, even though we’re pretty new and still growing. But I also think it’s the nonpartisan part of our site and the fact that we’re just trying to spark conversation about issues in Texas.
Each year, the Texas Tribune Festival has had a 30 percent increase in attendance. This year, organizers are expecting over 3,500 attendees, “which shows that people really are interested in politics, their state and in the country,” said Erlach. Most of the attendees will be students and politically involved individuals between the ages of 30 to 55.
Another major aspect of the festival is the revenue the news site earns. Erlach noted that the event has built momentum throughout the years and as a result, produces substantial revenue each time. Within just a few days of kicking off, The Texas Tribune has earned about a million dollars in revenue associated with the event.
The weekend will kick-off Friday evening with an Opening Night Party featuring some of Austin’s local restaurants and beverage providers. National keynote addresses will stream online for two days and all other sessions will be recorded on audio and made available as podcasts after the event.
For more information on the Texas Tribune Festival, click here.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.