In a pair of unfortunate moves for journalism in the Lone Star State, KUHF let go longtime news broadcaster Debra Fraser recently, and on Monday, investigative journalism Web site TexasWatchdog.com closed down permanently. The moves leave a hole in statewide media that seems to be indicative of the continued budget cuts within news television, radio and newspapers.
Fraser had been at KUHF since 1988 and was a fixture in local media. She was the local host of the NPR program All Things Considered and served as news director. She was something of an institution on Houston radio. Her release was part of a restructuring plan that began nearly two years ago. Fraser and Director of Communications Emily Binetti were the only two to lose their jobs, according to a report from CultureMap.
TexasWatchdog became a casualty of a shrinking media presence both online and off for investigative journalism. The Web site was supported by grants and donations, but those finally ran out and editor/founder Trent Seibert penned the site's eulogy Monday:
We've run out of money to keep delivering our award-winning local journalism.
We've had many generous donors since we launched in the summer of 2008, but a key donor for our operation in 2012, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, announced last year they would not be supporting independent journalism operations in 2013. We remain grateful for their support.
We were unable to secure the funds we would need to continue operating as an independent journalism site on a meaningful level.
Although closing down our site is quite sad, I look back at our time launching and growing Texas Watchdog as a bright point in Houston - and Texas - journalism.
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All the reporters working for the Watchdog have other gigs in other cities, but will no longer be providing their brand of journalism for Texas.