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Pictured: Margo. Reason: Because she’s awesome, and my public radio colleagues agree.

Screw fiefdoms.

I never liked them and I never will.

I never believed that news was something to guard like a chew toy. Information, as the saying goes, needs to be free.

And if it sounds like a socialist pipe dream to say that news outlets can and should cooperate and collaborate, then I respectfully suggest you change your opinion of what lies ahead.

This past weekend (the end of July, 2018) was probably the most rewarding two-and-a-half days of my professional life. I spent it with, somewhere around 50 other, quite incredible, public radio journalists from around Texas (and Margo, of course, pictured above because she’s cuter than I’d be even if I had a billion dollars).

The ostensible goal of the weekend was training, sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR, and hosted by the good folks at KERA in Dallas. (Thank you to all, incidentally.)

But the spirit of the goal was to pave the future through collaborative journalism. It turns out, my adopted state is leading the way forward with an ambitious effort to share (imagine that!) content, ideas, and information so that we tell more complete stories that represent Texas in all its facets.

It’s gratifying to know that my colleagues around the state (part of the wonderfully named Texas Station Collaborative, which is serving as a model for the direction NPR wants to go) see this future the same way I do. And it’s gratifying to know that stations in major cities and small, rural towns (like mine in the quiet rolling hills of Northeast Texas) are equally important, equally vibrant, and equally part of the state and national zeitgeists. Small stations like KETR are welcome at this table, where “we’re bigger than you” ego doesn’t exist.

After a long time bathed in the cynicism reporting can spark, I never thought I’d live to see the day I’d be so optimistic about where journalism is headed. And I haven’t been this happy to be wrong in a long time.

Speaking purely selfishly, I can’t even explain how grateful I am that I’m part of something that’s never really been tried before. To be on the cusp of a paradigm shift that I have no doubt will become the way of the future all around public radio is … well that’s just … goddamn indescribable, is what that is.

So I won’t try to wow you with hyperbole. Instead I’ll simply say: Stay tuned, Texas. This is going to be a fun ride.