Change is Hard, I Should Know

“Ten decisions shape your life,
you’ll be aware of five about…”
-The Strokes

I get to (finally) make it official. We are moving to Washington D.C., a.k.a. the great nemesis of Governor Rick Perry,  home of the lamestream media, and the land of taxation without representation. (That poor congresswoman doesn’t get a vote! WTF?!)

This means, of course,  I’m leaving the proudest professional project of my 28 years, The Texas Tribune — and Texas, for that matter — just before Valentine’s Day.

One more twist came at the end of 2010, the year I thought would never end. In mid-December, I got an unsolicited call from NPR in DC. They had “done some research” on me and had a job for which they thought I would “be an interesting choice.” A few days later I was at the DC HQ, meeting smart people who cared about journalism, and I wound up accepting the job, which calls for leading the digital side of NPR’s new StateImpact, or the project formerly known as the “Impact of Government.” (There will be someone else heading up the radio side, and I recently learned that the broadcast counterpart is Ken Rudin, longtime NPR Political Director and the original “Political Junkie” blogger.)

IOG will aim to expand state government coverage by eventually hiring 100 reporters, two in each state, devoted to reporting the multi-year effects of government decisions. (The first eight pilot states will be announced in the coming weeks.) Taking on this project means working from Washington, conceptualizing the digital platforms, creating new story forms, helping stations hire and train reporters, etc.

After getting the offer, I spent days talking myself out of and then back into and back out of the opportunity. I would have never been able to stretch and grow across platforms without the vision of John Thornton, the friendship of Ross Ramsey and the trust of Evan Smith, who’s basically the George Clooney character in the “Ocean’s 11” of journalists who came together. I feel a deep, deep attachment to what we’re building here. After all, this is born of our actual sweat and tears. (Many, many tears, in my case. Ask my multimedia partners-in-crime Todd or Justin.)

I wasn’t (and am still not fully) ready to leave our baby, or my real-life friends that helped build it, or the city that quickly became my home. I prefer Austin’s four seasons – mildly hot, medium hot, sauna hot and surface-of-sun hot – over actual seasons. But I decided to take this leap into another public media unknown because I’m sold on what a special opportunity this is to grow and learn, and on NPR’s commitment to being on the cutting edge of web journalism, which is of highest importance to me.*

So off I go. I’m counting on you to bring me a case of Shiner, and if you’re a really good friend, some Tito’s, when you visit. Both are nearly impossible to find inside the Beltway.

*That’s the official line, anyway. I was really most swayed when my soon-to-be boss said that if I went to DC, Nina Totenberg and I “could be BFFs”.


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (July 2009)

Emerging from the Hole (November 2009)

21 thoughts on “Change is Hard, I Should Know

  1. Wow.

    Will miss you two here in Austin. Your work at the Texas Tribune has been phenomenal. The NPR project sounds perfect for you.

    I used to live in DC, and I still travel there frequently for work and to visit family. When I was 22-27 years old, I worked as a deputy press secretary for a Senator. Highly recommend living as close in as you can.

    Good luck!

  2. I can’t read this through my tears & the voice in my head shouting, “NOOOOOOO!” But I’ll get over it.

    You were destined to be a big star, Elise. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your posts & checking your videos. You even commented on one of my comments, way back in the day when you posted your first HuTube. My summary of it was, “Dan the Intern Rocks,” and you tweeted it! But I digress. Best of luck to you: we’re looking forward to the great work you’ll continue to do.

  3. Congratulations, Elise (and Matt)! As we all know, you are both (each?) destined for great things and have already made a big, positive difference in how we interact with and understand our government. There was no better springboard than the Texas Tribune, which I know will continue to be a vital part of our community conversations. Next thing I know you’re both going to pop up on 24-hour cable news as talking heads. (please don’t.) Way to go!!

  4. Congratulations on your new gig!

    Thank you for participating in my “Legislative Boot Camp” two sessions in a row. You did a fantastic job!

    I look forward to reading good things about you.

    Enjoy D.C.!

  5. Good luck, Elise! This sounds like a terrific fit for you, and I look forward to seeing/hearing/watching your work on NPR’s site (where I’m assuming it will be).

  6. Congratulations on the opportunity, Elise! Charge is hard, but you’ll do great. (And it’ll be nice to hear a familiar voice on the radio…)

    Best of luck!

  7. Sounds like a great gig, Elise, and I know you will make a big mark in D.C. You and Matt have been integral parts of the Texas Tribune’s flying start and your successors have a tall order ahead of them.

    Best of luck to one of the rare reporters who could make a workers’ comp story exciting to read.

  8. Our loss is NPR’s gain – they’re be lucky to get you. We’ll miss you and Matt. Best wishes.

  9. Congrats to both of y’all! We’re gonna miss you two. But now Summer and I have an excuse to visit D.C. again! (Don’t tell my sister I said that. hahaha)

  10. Best of Luck Elise.
    Wow, you in a city that has TWO, real international airports and a train to NYC. I don’t think you’ll be tweeting about the new burger joint on S. Lamar anymore.

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