Announcing Burnt Orange Report’s Next Era

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Fellow members of the Burnt Orange Report community, I come to you with big news: after four years as Editor in Chief and two-plus as Publisher, I am handing over the reins of the state’s biggest progressive, partisan political blog.

Allow me to personally explain why this transition is critical to keeping BOR alive, and pull back the curtain a bit on the current state of online media.

BOR is one of the few remaining progressive blogs that emerged in the early 2000’s, and remains the most well-read and influential purely state-focused site. Our long-term success is rooted in a belief that BOR isn’t about any one person, but rather about a community of readers and writers. Our site has featured the words of over 60 staff writers across its 12.5 year history. Progressive campaigns and organizations have come to rely on BOR as a proving ground for writers and communicators.

One of my top priorities as Editor & Publisher Burnt Orange Report has been to protect the integrity and independence of our writing. However, this has often come at the cost of financial stability. As such, I have spent the last year looking to transition BOR to a position of greater stability while maintaining that independence.

Today, I am excited to announce that a long-time community member and progressive activist with a background in journalism and information science is taking over as Editor and Publisher — Lize Burr.

For those of you not familiar with her background, Lize is well known to many in the progressive and Democratic community for her work with statewide environmental and women’s coalitions. Most importantly, Lize has long been a booster of BOR, recognizing the value of training writers and providing a progressive messaging outlet here in Texas. She has been a major supporter of our work over the last few years, and you will hear more from her shortly about why she decided to take up this challenge.

The economics of maintaining an online news site are ever-changing and difficult. Ad revenue continues to trend downward, while Facebook seems to require ever more funding to show our posts to our actual fans. I am confident that with Lize at the helm, BOR will be able to focus on covering the issues that matter to Texas progressives, hold the media accountable, and push back against the right-wing anti-fact machine.

Texas needs and deserves a partisan, progressive news source that will speak to and for the needs and realities of a majority of Texans.

We deserve meaningful access to quality healthcare and education, clean water and air, and a government that honestly meets its obligations to the people of our state, while living free of state-sponsored bigotry and injustice.

Personally, I am most proud of several accomplishments from my time at the helm of BOR:

  • A diversified staff. When I joined BOR in November 2008, I was the sole female staff writer, and there was only half a person of color on the team. Over the past several years I have intentionally shifted the demographics of our blogging retinue, such that now half of our staff are women, and half (or more!) are people of color. This is critical not only because our staff should share the lived experiences of the voters and activists we speak to, but also because it is our job at BOR to elevate often-marginalized voices and perspectives in the progressive community. I have learned so much from the writings of my colleagues and am a better person for it.
  • Increased revenue. Starting in 2012, BOR began to hold an annual fundraiser that covers a substantial amount of our operating expenses. We also developed new advertising partnerships and made a bigger effort to solicit ads directly to the site rather than through third-party services. This revenue has allowed us to expand the staff and actually pay people for their labor, a bedrock progressive principle. While advertising revenue makes up a modest portion of our budget, I am pleased that it has increased dramatically over the last few years, due in large part to you, our readers, sharing our posts on social media.
  • A modern website. It was a project many years in the making, but BOR successfully transitioned from 2006-era platform to a modern WordPress site, to give our staff’s writings the professional look they deserve. The new platform is faster, and gives BOR the ability to install cutting-edge tools and optimizations to improve the reader and writer experience.
  • As my time at the head of BOR comes to a close, I want to specifically thank everyone who ever took a moment to send a nice word or thanks to our team for our efforts. Making a living writing and working on the Internet is often steeped in lazy criticisms and nasty-grams, so it always means so much to hear that people enjoy or appreciate the effort that goes in to keeping this site alive.

    From the Tex-pats who use BOR as a link to their home state to the lone Democrats in deep-red Texas to the elected officials who read our site on the floor of the Legislature, thank you for your support and enthusiasm for our work over the years.

    I am confident that goodwill will continue to accrue with Lize at the helm, and I’m excited to see what this marvelous team of progressive bloggers does next!

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    About Author

    Katherine Haenschen

    Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women’s basketball and breakfast tacos.

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