Texpatriate: About our jargon

Words matter, they have consequences. Indeed, many observers have begun to note a widening gap in lexicons between the left and the right. For example, as immigration becomes a major issue in this year’s Statewide elections, one would be remiss not to notice the big differences in the framing of the issue between candidates. Things as simple as the word to denote those immigrants who have violated law by not entering this country legally have been lost in translation. The Republican base refers to these individuals as “illegal alines,” whereas many in the Democratic Party use the term “unauthorized workers.” Study after study shows us that public opinion on a complicated issue may be easily manipulated by framing the issue in a particular way.

For example, one could imagine the ease in which a voter may be convinced to not reward “illegal aliens” with “amnesty.” The same could be said for allowing those aforementioned “unauthorized workers” to continue working within the country with a pathway to citizenship.

We have historically punted on this issue of political jargon. Our current policy is to simply allow individual writers (or the specific unsigned author of any editorial) to use terms of her or his own choosing. In addition to the issues of politically-charged terms, a lack of a unified and consistent style policy opens us up to charges of inconsistency. Look at our articles, and you will find woeful discrepancies between how we refer to public officials. For example, sometimes we will refer to an individual in second-mention as “Judge Doe” or “Senator Doe,” but sometimes as just “Doe” and sometimes as “Mr Doe.”

Click here to read our solution!

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Texpatriate is looking for new members!

Editorial note: We have copied and pasted our flyer –which is currently being distributed throughout the 40 acres– onto this blog post.

Texpatriate is looking for three new members of its team here in Austin! We are a TPA political blog that, over the last year-and-a-half, has been establishing ourselves in Houston politics. Since that time, we have become a serious voice in covering events at City Hall and the horserace of Municipal and Mayoral elections.

We are a group of college students, some of which live outside of the State. In fact, the word “Texpatriate” comes as a portmanteau of “Texas” and “expatriate.” We don’t pick our favorites in elections and ignore the candidates that aren’t media darlings. We don’t give anyone a pass if they do something deserving of a rebuke. We always conduct ourselves with professionalism and only cover professional stories. And, most important, we are never predictable.

Now we want to bring this same idea to the State Capital. Noah M. Horwitz, the founder of this blog, has even moved to Austin and transferred to UT in order to personally oversee this rebirth of the blog.

We are looking for an Editorial Assistant to begin attending social/political events on behalf of the organization, manage the blog’s Instagram account and create “Week in Review” videos every Sunday, which are short (3-5 minutes) videos that sum up all the pertinent political news of the week.

We are looking for an ‘Austin writer’ to focus on local political news coming out of both the Travis County Courthouse and Austin City Hall. Specifically, as the new district Council elections are approaching, we want to have someone in the field covering these developments.

We are looking for a ‘Republican writer,’ so to speak, to cover these upcoming Republican primaries. The current members of the Texpatriate team in Austin are partisan Democrats, and we are looking for someone with an amicable relationship towards statewide Republicans and their campaign staff.

If you are interested, please contact us. We are not so much interested in resumes and references as we are in simply meeting any individual who would be interested in working with us. We would love the opportunity to broaden our team.

If interested, contact Olivia Arena or Noah M. Horwitz at (617) 807-0830.
Alternatively, email us through “Arena@texpate.com” or “Horwitz@texpate.com

The Houston (new) Post

The thing about blogs is that it provides a poor snapshot of what truly goes on any particular day. I am typically very generous about linking news stories or other blogs that write about similar stories as myself or other members of the Texpatriate. Despite this, I have seen more and more people over the past few months who now appear to visit Texpatriate as a source for actual, hard news. I am not really a journalist, though I do see a future where there are some real journalists who write for Texpatriate.

Until that point, however, I see two distinct ways to move forward. First, I could work to write in a more neutral, objective point of view. While I have certainly tried to lessen any annoying habits pertaining to excessive partisan rants, I realize that it is just not in my blood to omit my personal opinions from conversation. Accordingly, the second option is to create a new program that gets the news across in a condensed, straightforward way, while preserving the commentary on the site. We have decided to call this program “The Houston New Post,” with an eye towards the old newspaper owned by the Hobby family. Such a throwback is a common feature in the local media; after all, the altweekly “Houston Press” is a reference to a Scripps-Howards paper of yesteryear that once employed Walter Cronkite.

The Post, otherwise known as “THNP,” will (for now) contain a straightforward headline and easy summation of the biggest news around the State in any one day, with a particular focus on Houston. We will always list the author of the article and the publication it originally appeared in, and will only reprint the first two paragraphs or so, just enough to catch the reader’s attention. One will then be directed to the link of the original article.

If this pilot program is successful, we will expand it to include a fairly unique editorial and opinion section, as well as more original reporting. Eventually, we would like to give access to the full article by offering subscriptions, a fraction of which would obviously go to all the publications. But that will be a conversation for a future day. For now, give us some feedback on the first issue of THNP.
~Noah M. Horwitz

Click the link below!

THNP 1-7-14

Horwitz on moving to Austin

At the risk of appearing excessively cold to a significant transition in my life, I will delve into greater detail about what Sophia mentioned in passing in her video last night: I am moving to Austin in January and will transfer colleges to the University of Texas at Austin. The two of us penned a press release on this matter as well, which I have attached below.

Moving to the State Capital, I plan on taking full advantage of my repatriating into the middle of the political landscape. We are working on some big projects that I think will help to expand our visibility and broaden our readership. Additionally, we are looking at hiring more Staff Writers–though nothing is for certain at this point. Like I have said before, more details will be figured out and announced in the coming days and weeks.

Additionally, a serendipitous consequence of my relocation to Austin will be a much closer proximity to Houston. Rest assured, I will continue covering City Hall politics and local primaries with great alacrity. I will have my car with me, which means I can take my infamous “capricious trips” back home whenever the need arises without additionally financial penalty, unlike now when I must purchase airline tickets months in advance. I doubt I will actually return home more than I historically have been recently (roughly once a month), but I believe I will be able to more strategically choose when I come home, so that I may maximize the effectiveness of my visits.

Click here to read the Press Release!

Texpatriate on recommendations

It is no secret that we have been somewhat outward with our recommendations in this municipal election. The tab marked “2013 Election” shows all the recommendations made by both this board and the individual Editorial Board members.

Texpatriate made a conscious decision to write individual editorials for each municipal office, so as to discuss every race in depth. The astute will notice that many of these editorials follow the same template, a rough process of elimination that delineates the strengths and weaknesses of all the major candidates. Most interest groups that field endorsements simply offer up names. While the Houston Chronicle does ascribe their endorsements to a detailed editorial, the format follows a very different path. Very rarely does a Chronicle endorsement go into depth about a candidate other than the endorsee.

This board does things very differently for, what we humbly believe, is a unique reason. While many other organizations that endorse do so with the intention of convincing readers and members to support their picks, we try to stimulate critical reasoning about the election and encourage individuals to make their own decisions. Sometimes they align with our picks, but often times they do not.

Click here to read more about our thoughts!

Introducing…the Texpatriate Editorial Board

A few months ago, I (Horwitz) welcomed “an old City Hall buddy of mine,” Andrew Romo, into Texpatriate. Originally, the idea was for him to contribute articles, but this proposal was soon abandoned in favor of a more nuanced role. Rather, he has taken over most social networking and general publicity for this blog.

Accordingly, when the idea arose for two more “City Hall buddies” of mine, Olivia Arena and George Bailey, to join the Texpatriate organization, I ultimately came to the conclusion that writing may not be the best position for them. Primarily, I suppose, because most people seem to have better things to do with their lives than constantly read and write about local politics.

The four of us, however, do still want to be closely connected and affiliated with Texpatriate. The conclusion we ultimately came to was to create the Texpatriate Editorial Board (pictured below; from right to left, Noah M. Horwitz, Olivia Arena, George Bailey and Andrew Romo):

editorial board

The board will not manage the general affairs of Texpatriate, such as website changes, design decisions or other general matters. Content on individual articles will still be left, without restriction, to the discretion of the individual writer. This means that nearly every article, which is written by me (Horwitz), will be unchanged.

The key role of this board will be Editorial articles. These will include endorsements, annual or biennial rankings of City Councilmembers/State Legislators/Texas Congresspeople and general opinions or positions on contentious issues. While the vast majority of these editorials will probably be authored through my account, these will not be only my opinion and sometimes might not even be mine at all. All editorials will be obviously marked as those articles where “Texpatriate” is the first word of the title (Ex: “Texpatriate endorses Sylvia Garcia“).

Editorial board decisions will only be reached if the decision is unanimous or 3-1. If there exists a 2-2 tie, no decision will be rendered. Individual members of the board, if their opinions are not completely expressed in the editorials, may write their own opinions on the subject or field their own endorsements for candidates not chosen.

Just a little bit of background on where the political tilt exists within this new board. Olivia Arena and I (Horwitz) have traditionally liberal views, Andrew Romo has moderate views and George Bailey’s complete apathy on national political issues makes a political litmus test difficult. Roughly, his views represent significant local emphasis, but are broadly to the right of centre (just slightly).

We look forward to bringing you our first editorial: “Texpatriate’s best and worst legislators of the 83rd session,” sometime before Texas Monthly comes out with theirs.

In re Nemo

I apologize for the recent lack of activity, I am hunkered-down at my brother’s house to ride out this blizzard. The electricity is most likely going out, so I would like to conserve my battery-life.

See you sunday!