2023 Beat Reporting (Small Newsroom) Winner

Kate McGee, The Texas Tribune & Open Campus

About the Winner:

As the Texas Legislature took aim at diversity, equity and inclusion offices as well as tenure practices at public universities across Texas, Kate McGee produced big-picture, analytical journalism that helped put the proposals into context for Texans.

In addition to detailing the political polarization that drove these proposals and breaking down the potential consequences of stripping them from higher education institutions, Kate also noted how they could affect the state’s efforts to make its universities more competitive at a national level.

Her stories on Kathleen McElroy and Joy Alonzo garnered multiple op-eds in newspapers across the state and country condemning the universities and state leaders, and prompted a response from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Texas A&M changed leadership and is in the process of determining more solid protections for faculty when issues about academic freedom arise, a benefit long-sought by professors.

Comments From the Judges:

“There is a lot going on in Texas higher ed. And not in a good way. This entry captured the tensions in the larger context of state and national politics. It was even-handed and sophisticated. Well done.”

“She really did hold the state higher education system accountable. Using public record requests, gaining the trust of sources and dogged reporting, she was able to point out how the heavy hand of [the] state government was pressing on higher education in ways that could (and in some cases did ) cause irreparable harm to the institutions in the system.”

Photo credits: Leila Saidane/The Texas Tribune; Meredith Seaver/The Texas Tribune