The Austin Post
Making a Major Move
Looks like The Austin Post is getting off of the porch to run with the big journalism dogs.
The Post, while continuing to court unpaid bloggers like me, is hiring professional staff to cover the important news of the day.
This move will set them apart from the competition. This aggressive approach will move The Austin Post beyond being a repository for those who have an opinion and want to blog about it. Hiring staff has the potential of making the AP a viable news medium in Austin.
The Post philosophy at its inception was to open the doors to Austin writers with the idealistic belief that the news that matters would blow in on the wind. Yes, reports about important events have been posted, most of the time, written by Editor Karie Meltzer.
Look at the page today (www.austinpost.org) and see if there is anything about the angst at the Austin Independent School District budget work sessions and the impending impact on hundreds of educators who may learn that their jobs are gone, not to mention the confused students who will be caught in the middle.
Find a story about the inane actions on so-called emergency items at the State Capitol.
Why? It takes reporters sitting through meetings, interviewing newsmakers, and sifting through stacks of paper. I love Meltzer’s promise to potential reporters: You’ll be “part of an adventurous and growing online newspaper where originality is valued as much as accuracy.” Now, we’re talking Journalism.
This significant move is counter what has become the industry norm. They are hiring, not cutting. They are trying to do more with more while others continue trying to do more with less.
I’ve written and said many times that reporters equal content, and content draws an audience. The unique fact that The Austin Post is willing to “run with the big dogs” and write original, compelling stories should draw readers. If my theory is right, it should result in readers and viewers.
These multiplatform reporters will be shooting still pictures from a different angle than one might see on another site. Further, they will be shooting video. It won’t be just “talking head” video. It will be Austin in motion. It will be interesting to see the bylines.
All of this comes from the mind of Meltzer who sold her bosses at Trilogy on the concept. She wants stories that go deeper than just "He said, she said." She’s asking a lot from a small staff (See her story, “The Austin Post is Hiring…”), and Austin will benefit from it.
While volunteer writers will still contribute the pieces that are the stuff of Austin, real, multi-platform reporters will be on the street with laptops and cameras finding original stories found only in The Austin Post. Will it stifle the current contributors? I don’t think so. It might make them better. I was writing this journalism/media criticism blog before there was an Austin Post. The professionalism should rub off on them. Further, as the audience grows, so will their exposure.
So, I applaud the Austin Post for daring to do what no others do at the local level. So, while the Texas Tribune may be the go-to site for state news, the Austin American-Statesman and The Austin Chronicle web sites have competition.
And here’s the cool: The Austin Post is not for profit. They aren’t beholding to anybody. Bookmark it.
© Jim McNabb, 2011