DAVID: KUHF just joined the Public Insight Network. What that is and what it means for our news operation here, we'll explain in a bit. But we asked people in the network whether Texas is part of the South. We got dozens of responses and these are just a few of them.
"The South was always somewhere over there, probably Georgia or something, you know. And they talked different than we did and said things like, 'I do declare.'"
"There's a saying in parts of Texas that the South ends at Dallas and the West begins at Fort Worth."
"We don't take no for an answer. We're definitely always trying to push forward. I call it western ambition. It's a nice mix with the Southern hospitality, I think."
DAVID: In order, that was:
Neil Orts who lives in Southwest Houston.
Marlene Lockey, a third-generation Texan, on the far west side of Houston.
And Will Gough, who lives in the Montrose area but who's originally from Los Angeles.
DAVID: To talk about these responses and more about the network, we have Shomial Ahmad here, KUHF's Public Insight Analyst. Shomial, tell us more about the responses here.
SHOMIAL: So this Texas is part of the south was the first question we asked Texans already in the Public Insight Network. It's a big database of 'sources'. The back story is we had Minnesotan training us on how to use the network. She was under the impression that Texas was part of the South, and many of us disagreed. So we decided to take it out to the people in this database. We emailed the sources, and one of the first questions we asked was: if there was a historical perspective or cultural marker that can inform their views. We had University of Houston African-American History professor Gerald Horne respond with a pretty definitive yes, at least for most part of the state.
"Well, Texas was part of the Confederate States of America. It seceded from the United States in 1861 in order to form a separate state. I don't think there's any larger or more significant marker in terms of being a part of the South than being part of the so-called Confederate States of America."
SHOMIAL: But we had other people write with cultural markers, saying if the restaurants don't have grits, then it's not the South. Here we got Jackson Hearn who lives in the Heights now, but he's originally from Tennessee. So he's gotta know what's up. He came up with a kind-of litmus test of what defines the South, and in his opinion, Texas really didn't pass.
"First, it's not a Texas drawl, it's a Texas twang. Here, Sweet tea is not a necessity here, it's just iced tea. If you go in the South, and you get barbecue, you get pork barbecue. In Texas, as you know, if you've lived here any length of time, it's beef barbecue."
DAVID: So all these responses came through the Public Insight Network? What exactly is that?
SHOMIAL: The network, like I said before, is a database of sources, but it's a lot more than that. Anyone can join by signing up on our webpage, kuhf.org/pin. What we're basically trying to do is get everyday people to either to talk about the issues that they're dealing with or share some knowledge about what they know.
For example, if a reporter in our newsroom is working on [a story] on the Houston housing market. And you're a first-time homebuyer, or you're a homebuyer. So you know, sort of, what areas of Houston where people are paying above the asking price, and you know areas where… 'Hey, in my neighborhood I've seen like three or four houses that haven't been moving for like seven months.' So when that reporter is working on that housing story, they send out a questionnaire to you, and you answer that questionnaire with what you know.
DAVID: So people who have experience in various fields, and have knowledge that they are willing to share on a variety of topics. How would they become a part of the Public Insight Network?
SHOMIAL: Like I said before, we've got a website; we've got a little video that explains what it all is. And that network is at kuhf.org/pin. And we've got a button there that says become a source and that's how you become a source.
This story was informed by sources in KUHF's Public Insight Network ®. To become a news source for KUHF, go to www.kuhf.org/pin.