ProPublica and The Texas Tribune announced on Friday that Zahira Torres has been named the new senior editor of their investigative reporting initiative. She will begin later this month. Torres, who has served as an editor for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, will lead the investigative unit and manage a team of reporters and other staffers based in the Tribune’s Austin, Texas, newsroom. She replaces Manny García, who has been named editor of the Austin American-Statesman.
“A lifelong Texan, Zahira has cut her teeth covering Austin, investigating Texas and leading a newsroom,” said Charles Ornstein, ProPublica’s managing editor, local. “Her leadership of Local Reporting Network projects has shown she thinks big. She’s committed to not only exposing things that are not working but reporting on proposed solutions. I know Zahira will continue to be a standout newsroom leader in this new role.”
Before joining ProPublica, Torres was the editor of the El Paso Times and enterprise editor for the USA Today Network’s Texas/New Mexico newspapers. During her tenure, Torres was part of a team that developed and edited “The Wall: Untold Stories, Unintended Consequences,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. Torres began her career at the Times while attending college. She was named Capitol bureau chief in 2009 and, during that time, worked with The Texas Tribune on a series about elections that became one of the nonprofit news organization’s first collaborations.
She later became an education reporter for the Denver Post and Los Angeles Times before returning to her El Paso roots to lead the paper’s investigations and eventually be promoted to editor, becoming the first Latina to hold the title.
“Texas is home for me, and I am thrilled to work with an outstanding team of talented and dedicated investigative reporters whose passion for covering the state has already led to powerful journalism in this important collaboration between ProPublica and The Texas Tribune,” Torres said. “The team’s dogged pursuit of ambitious and impactful journalism will only grow stronger in the coming years. I could not be more excited for the future of investigative journalism in a state that has so many striking stories to tell, from El Paso to Beaumont.”
Ornstein thanked García for his work hiring the reporters and other staff that make up the joint unit. “Even though the whole team has never met in person, they have produced important journalism about the border wall, immigration, debt collection and COVID-19. We look forward to partnering with him in his new role.”
“Manny has been invaluable to the creation and success of our reporting partnership in an unbelievably difficult time,” said stacy-marie ishmael, editorial director of The Texas Tribune. “He’s laid the foundation on which the whole team and Zahira will continue to build upon and we’re excited to work with him in his new capacity. A thriving and collaborative Texas and local news ecosystem is more important now, than ever.”
In 2019, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune embarked on a first-of-its-kind collaboration to publish investigative reporting for and about Texas. The jointly operated, 11-person investigative reporting unit invests more than $1.6 million a year into critical accountability and watchdog journalism. Both organizations publish the team’s stories, which are distributed for free to news organizations in Texas and beyond.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 100 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Its reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received six Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards and eight George Polk Awards, among other honors.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public media organization whose mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide interest. For more information on The Texas Tribune, visit texastribune.org.