“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

JOHN F KENNEDY

“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

JOHN F KENNEDY

In this highly polarized period, most Americans believe the national news media is dividing the country. The reason is part of a crisis in media decades in the making.

With the rise of digital media and mobile devices, local news sources that more accurately reflect on-the-ground realities in ordinary American life have been hollowed out of communities across the country. Those media jobs are now concentrated in just a few major metropolitan areas detached from the places most Americans spend their time. The void left over by local journalism’s decline has since been filled by an insular national news media, on cable television and online, that reflects back to us a distorted funhouse mirror version of ourselves. That’s not only bad for society, it’s making us individually miserable and collectively distrustful of one another.

As our eyes and ears, journalists possess enormous influence over how we perceive our fellow equals. More specifically, there’s a considerable segment of the population, including especially younger Americans, who want more intellectually fulfilling journalism and engagement than what has been geared toward them over the last decade.

To that end, we are building Fifth Estate, an Austin-based, local-inspired journalism company. We’ll be launching a newsletter and web experience of reporting and discourse from outside of the digital news monoculture. We aim to do something seemingly novel in a polarized industry: accurately depict reality.

Doing so will mean having the curiosity, courage and humility to say what is true, based on evidence, even when it contradicts established narratives and especially when it serves to break group stereotypes entrenched in media. It will mean cultivating a workplace and audience where intellectual diversity is an asset to truth and a check on selective facts and standards. It will mean not treating the most inconvenient truths as existential threats to any given group or the republic itself.

Texans and Americans generally deserve a self-aware press. In the words of Jon Stewart “The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker.”

We believe the press – the only constitutionally-protected private sector industry in the country – have a distinctly greater responsibility to leave our culture better than we now find it.

WHAT WE ARE ABOUT:

Core coverage. Texas and federal politics; local and national markets; multiculture and society; media analysis

Viewpoint diversity. A more complete portrait of reality is captured when ideas are tested and facts are supplemented by feedback from a range of voices.

Localness. We believe journalists as influencers of public perception have a responsibility to be present and engage with people in-person. We look forward to connecting with our local community especially through future happenings.

Multiculture. The United States (a literal union of states) is not just one place, it’s many places! People of many subcultures are often lumped together or rarely included in what is popularly designated as American culture by national media. We’ll aim to depict the American multiculture accurately.

Progress. For an industry that strives to advance progress, news media often neglect or deny progress. We’ll better inform our readers when we blow reality into, not out of, proportion.

Influence. The editorial modus operandi in journalism is a critical interpretation of power that divides us into groups of good people and bad people frequently across class, race and status lines. Instead, we refer to a five-part Influence model to understanding power that helps us confront the nuances, paradoxes and tradeoffs of the world while remaining skeptical of concentrated power.

WHAT ARE WE ARE NOT ABOUT:

Identitarianism. We resist the nasty trend in journalism that increasingly attributes blame for social or individual problems to groups including on the basis of race, sex, religion, age and class. This is dangerous and we want no part in it.

Hot takes. This won’t be a place that churns out opinions on hyper-momentary occurrences that won’t matter in a week.

Conspiracy journalism. Journalists can get individual facts right and still get an entire story wrong. We will not mislead our audience by connecting dots that do not exist and calling that investigative journalism.

Some-say journalism. We’ve all seen this, stories that read “some people say ‘X’” but rarely specify how many people, or who those people are. We will not inflate the mumblings of a minuscule few by portraying them as reflective of a larger reality or a given consensus that doesn’t exist.

Clickbait. No.

In this highly polarized period, most Americans believe the national news media is dividing the country. The reason is part of a crisis in media decades in the making.

With the rise of digital media and mobile devices, local news sources that more accurately reflect on-the-ground realities in ordinary American life have been hollowed out of communities across the country. Those media jobs are now concentrated in just a few major metropolitan areas detached from the places most Americans spend their time. The void left over by local journalism’s decline has since been filled by an insular national news media, on cable television and online, that reflects back to us a distorted funhouse mirror version of ourselves. That’s not only bad for society, it’s making us individually miserable and collectively distrustful of one another.

As our eyes and ears, journalists possess enormous influence over how we perceive our fellow equals. More specifically, there’s a considerable segment of the population, including especially younger Americans, who want more intellectually fulfilling journalism and engagement than what has been geared toward them over the last decade.

To that end, we are building Fifth Estate, an Austin-based, local-inspired journalism company. We’ll be launching a newsletter and web experience of reporting and discourse from outside of the digital news monoculture. We aim to do something seemingly novel in a polarized industry: accurately depict reality.

Doing so will mean having the curiosity, courage and humility to say what is true, based on evidence, even when it contradicts established narratives and especially when it serves to break group stereotypes entrenched in media. It will mean cultivating a workplace and audience where intellectual diversity is an asset to truth and a check on selective facts and standards. It will mean not treating the most inconvenient truths as existential threats to any given group or the republic itself.

Texans and Americans generally deserve a self-aware press. In the words of Jon Stewart “The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker.”

We believe the press – the only constitutionally-protected private sector industry in the country – have a distinctly greater responsibility to leave our culture better than we now find it.

WHAT WE ARE ABOUT:

Core coverage. Texas and federal politics; local and national markets; multiculture and society; media analysis

Viewpoint diversity. A more complete portrait of reality is captured when ideas are tested and facts are supplemented by feedback from a range of voices.

Localness. We believe journalists as influencers of public perception have a responsibility to be present and engage with people in-person. We look forward to connecting with our local community especially through future happenings.

Multiculture. The United States (a literal union of states) is not just one place, it’s many places! People of many subcultures are often lumped together or rarely included in what is popularly designated as American culture by national media. We’ll aim to depict the American multiculture accurately.

Progress. For an industry that strives to advance progress, news media often neglect or deny progress. We’ll better inform our readers when we blow reality into, not out of, proportion.

Influence. The editorial modus operandi in journalism is a critical interpretation of power that divides us into groups of good people and bad people frequently across class, race and status lines. Instead, we refer to a five-part Influence model to understanding power that helps us confront the nuances, paradoxes and tradeoffs of the world while remaining skeptical of concentrated power.

WHAT ARE WE ARE NOT ABOUT:

Identitarianism. We resist the nasty trend in journalism that increasingly attributes blame for social or individual problems to groups including on the basis of race, sex, religion, age and class. This is dangerous and we want no part in it.

Hot takes. This won’t be a place that churns out opinions on hyper-momentary occurrences that won’t matter in a week.

Conspiracy journalism. Journalists can get individual facts right and still get an entire story wrong. We will not mislead our audience by connecting dots that do not exist and calling that investigative journalism.

Some-say journalism. We’ve all seen this, stories that read “some people say ‘X’” but rarely specify how many people, or who those people are. We will not inflate the mumblings of a minuscule few by portraying them as reflective of a larger reality or a given consensus that doesn’t exist.

Clickbait. No.