We are pleased to announce three exciting new hires to our reporting team.
Roxanna Asgarian will be our new law and courts reporter, tracking how the legal system shapes the lives of Texans and the politics of this state. Roxanna is an independent journalist who until recently was based in Houston and has published pieces in New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, Time and other periodicals. Her first book, “We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America,” about six children adopted from Texas who died with their parents in a California murder-suicide, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in March. The book delves deeply into the child welfare system in Texas. Roxanna impressed us with the quality of her writing and her analytical approach to covering the law; judges, lawmakers and attorneys; and the ordinary Texans caught up in legal decisions. A native of Las Vegas and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, Roxanna loves gardening and hanging out with her husband and 5-year-old child. They recently moved to Dallas, where Roxanna will be based, reporting to senior editor David Pasztor.
Robert Downen will be our new democracy reporter, focusing on disinformation, extremism and threats to democracy along with the money and movements that fuel political activism in this state. Robert joins us from the Houston Chronicle, where he covers nonprofits and other business news. He was the lead reporter on “Abuse of Faith,” a series that detailed hundreds of cases of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. The series, which Robert discovered and pitched while he was a Hearst Fellow and covering Houston City Hall, was named the biggest global religion story of 2019 by the Religion News Association. Its findings continue to dominate the agenda of the nation’s second-largest faith group and are at the core of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Robert previously was a business reporter at the Albany Times Union and managing editor of a small newspaper group in his hometown in Illinois. He grew up in the Chicago area and in his free time enjoys playing and producing music and hanging out with his two dogs. He’ll be based in Austin as a member of the politics team led by Rebekah Allen.
Alejandra Martinez will be our new environment reporter. She joins us from KERA in Dallas, where she began as a Report for America fellow and then covered Dallas City Hall. Previously, she worked at WLRN, South Florida’s public radio station, as an associate producer. Following her relentless coverage of a shingle mountain — a dumped pile of roofing waste that caused brown dust and fiberglass to blow into the communities of color nearby — the city of Dallas began discussions about removing the material. When she learned about a Superfund site in Grand Prairie, she knocked on the doors of dozens of Spanish-speaking households to inform them of the danger. After her story aired, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted its first community event in the area since 2018 and announced plans for cleanup. A native of the Aldine area of Harris County, Alejandra attended the University of Texas at Austin. She spends her spare time with her cat, Dakota, binge watching television dramas and reading romance novels, for which she has a dedicated Instagram account. She’ll be based in Dallas, reporting to Dave Harmon, editor for environment, energy and immigration, and partnering with Erin Douglas, who is focusing on climate change.
These journalists will be pivotal to the Tribune’s evolution over the next few years. We couldn’t be more excited about these new hires, all of whom start at the end of the month.
Disclosure: Texas Monthly and University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters 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.