The philosophical motivation behind the changes was to increase the amount of news each issue carries. Every week our staff receives a ton of information which would be of interest to our readers, yet which we've had no place to report. So we've added two new columns reporting news briefs, and beefed up two others. We've also divided up the editorial departments a little differently. The Chronicle is now divided into four separate sections -- Politics, Arts/Performance, Screens (film and electronic media), and Music --each with its own "cover page" and weekly news column, in addition to other coverage, and about the same mix of feature stories that we've been carrying. (Film listings are restructured as well, but the rest of the paper -- listings, classifieds, and columns in the front and back of the book -- remain unchanged.) Here's an introduction to our new editorial departments:
* Politics: "Naked City" now opens up with short news items, in addition to the 300 to 500-word featurettes it has always carried. Alex de Marban's "Council Watch" now runs on its own page, and continuing in their every-other-week rotation are Robert Bryce's "Environs," Mike Clark-Madison's "Corner to Corner" neighborhoods column, Roseana Auten's "A.I.S.D. Notebook," Daryl Slusher's column, and Hugh Forrest's "Media Clips" (now in the politics section rather than alternating up front with Michael Ventura's "Letters at 3am"). Louisa Brinsmade edits this section; Audrey Duff is the section assistant and "Naked City" editor.
* Arts/Performances includes an arts news column by Robert Faires -- "Articulations," covering arts, noteworthy literary happenings, theatre, and dance news -- plus a regular column of short gallery reviews. Faires is the editor of this section, aided by Julie Weaver. Also included here is the book section (edited by Margaret Moser), which will stay largely the same, and the food section (edited by Jennifer Scoville), which will include a few more short restaurant reviews in addition to a weekly feature and "Food-o-File," a food news column authored by Virginia Wood.
* Screens is our one brand-new section, devoted to film, video, and multimedia. Currently, Austin is undergoing a boom in film production, with both local and Hollywood shoots coming here. Video production is growing as well, and multimedia in a short time has become one of the city's major industries. The Chronicle has only been covering a small part of these activities but this refocusing should help us to cover much more. This section will feature a media news column by Jennifer Scoville, as well as regular features and reviews. Also moving here from the film listings section are Pat Taggart's bi-weekly "Awake in the Dark" column and the video/CD-ROM/laser disk review column "Scanlines." The department is edited by Scoville and Marge Baumgarten.
The film listings (also edited by Baumgarten) have undergone a couple of changes as well. As before, we will review every movie as it opens, and each issue will have a review of every first-run movie playing in town that week. Full-length reviews will run only once; subsequent issues will contain an abbreviated version. The original long versions will be available on-line, and the short version will include the date the review first ran. Also new are a list of everything opening during the week, and a notation of each movie's MPAA rating (G, PG, R, X, etc.)
* Music (edited by Raoul Hernandez) will remain largely unchanged, aside from graphic redesign. Ken Lieck's "Dancing About Architecture" column has moved to the front page of the section, to appear in the same format as the other sections' news columns.
Obviously we will be fine-tuning over the next few months and who knows how it will all shake out. Most of the editorial and production staff has spent months working on this redesign, but it was spearheaded by Jennifer Scoville, Laxman Gani, Diana DeFrancesco, Ben Plimpton, and Nick Barbaro. Genuine thanks are due to everyone, though, especially the rest of the staff who put up with the chaos.
This Austin Chronicle is designed to look and read better. Having all the regular features and columns but adding some columns and regular features, we will be able to cover the ongoing news of the community -- politically, socially and culturally -- more thoroughly than we did before.
After half a decade at the helm, S. Emerson Moffat is passing the "Public Notice" wheel to Kate X. Messer. Moffat promises more freelance pieces now that she will have some extra time on her hands, though with three-year-old Zeke "Buster" Barbaro, I doubt she'll have much. Moffat turned "Public Notice" into a must-read column to find out what was going on, to be entertained and, for some, to be offended. Over the years, she never backed down and dispensed information with such style that you had no doubt as to how she really felt. We're excited about Messer writing the column, but Moffat will be missed. n