T-Squared: Natalia Contreras is joining Votebeat and the Tribune to cover election administration in Texas

Natalia Contreras (Courtesy Of Natalia Contreras, Courtesy Of Natalia Contreras)

I am delighted to formally announce our partnership with Votebeat and the hiring of Natalia E. Contreras, who will cover Texas election administration and voting access for both newsrooms. This exciting new collaboration between two major nonprofit newsrooms will provide our readers with consistent, year-round coverage to fully understand and engage with the voting process.

Votebeat is a new outlet from Chalkbeat, the largest local newsroom covering public education in America. During the 2020 election, Chalkbeat launched Votebeat as a three-month popup news network, placing reporters with 10 partner newsrooms across eight states, including the Tribune. Votebeat’s reporters will strictly cover the nuts and bolts of voting — no polls, candidate platforms or election day results — and maintain a strict nonpartisan focus on how elections are run, from early and mail-in voting to voter registration and election security. As a founding partner, the Tribune will host and support Natalia, identifying potential stories, amplifying her coverage to audiences across and beyond Texas and sharing resources with Votebeat.

Natalia joins Votebeat and the Tribune from the Austin American-Statesman, where she has served as the communities enterprise reporter, focusing on how education, public safety and government policies impacted communities of color. As a native Spanish speaker with a deep background in covering immigrant communities, Natalia will be able to highlight how new Americans interact with our voting system as well.

Born in Mexico, Natalia immigrated with her mother at age 11, settling in Corpus Christi. She studied at Del Mar College and at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she worked on The Shorthorn, the student newspaper. She covered breaking news, public safety and immigration for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times from 2014 to 2018 and wrote about Hamilton County, one of Indiana’s fastest-growing suburbs, and immigrant communities for the Indianapolis Star from 2018 until last year, when she joined the Statesman.

At Votebeat, Natalia will work alongside two fellow Texans — Lauren Aguirre, Votebeat’s engagement editor, and Jessica Huseman, editorial director. They are joined by Alison Go, Votebeat co-founder and Chalkbeat chief strategy officer; Chad Lorenz, editor-in-chief; Oralandar Brand-Williams, Michigan reporter; Denise Clay-Murray, Pennsylvania reporter; Jen Fifield, Arizona reporter; and Carrie Levine, story editor.

At the Tribune, senior editor David Pasztor will be Natalia’s point of contact, collaborating closely with the editors at Votebeat. Other Tribune reporters will of course continue to report on voting, campaigns and elections, including Alexa Ura, who has produced stellar coverage of redistricting, voting rights and the political impact of demographic change across Texas.

The fair and lawful administration of elections is a pillar of our democracy, and the Tribune is very excited to be Votebeat’s partner in this crucial area of coverage.

Disclosure: University of Texas - Arlington has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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