We Have an Issue: On This We Can Agree
Land development code, the D.A. race, and adieu to Sarah Marloff
We're quite friendly around the Chronicle office, but on occasion, my boss Nick Barbaro and I will scrap over the distinction between our news reporting and our political columns, of which we have three in current rotation. I'll try to throw up fences and say "This belongs here" and "That belongs there." And Nick will respond that there's no distinction between the two, not really – that what we do here at the Chronicle is advocacy journalism.
And he's right, of course. Our journalism is riddled with advocacy – we encourage our writers and reporters to have a voice, a point of view – and our advocacy is informed by our research, our reporting, and our lived experience. We're not sneaky about it; that kind of (cough, loaded word incoming) agenda is part of the alternative weekly tradition, and our regular use of the self-descriptor "progressive" is meant to be another neon sign announcing where we're coming from.
Now, advocacy journalism gets a little trickier – at least from the outside looking in – when we're not all advocating the same thing. Contrary to the popular opinion among our commenters: There is no hive mind, no monolithic Chronicle stance, but rather a wide swath of experience and opinions reflected in the paper. That's especially apparent in this week's issue, where we've got one foot each on two of Austin's third-rail topics du jour: the Land Development Code, and the District Attorney race. Between the two, we've got more than 20,000 words spread between six bylines, and we haven't reached a consensus any more than the rest of Austin has on these highly polarizing issues. Which I think makes for pretty interesting reading.
You can't talk about the D.A. race without talking about the perception of many that the D.A.'s Office is not doing its best when it comes to prosecuting sexual assault cases and providing support to survivors, and you can't talk about that without talking about Sarah Marloff. (No, seriously: The New York Times has relied on her reporting.)
When Sarah told me last month that she and her wife were moving back to D.C., I was gutted, and frankly my stomach still hasn't recovered. She's been with the Chronicle for almost seven years now, in a variety of roles, and in the ones she holds now – associate News editor and Qmmunity editor – she's been a star. A determined, deeply empathetic reporter and two-time winner of the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" Readers Poll Award for Best Journalist, Sarah has made her name covering social and criminal justice issues. She also reinvented our LGBTQ+ coverage under the "Qmmunity" umbrella, launching an even more inclusive and ambitious queer space in the Chronicle.
Lucky for us, Sarah's been mentoring her replacement, Beth Sullivan, ever since she handpicked her as an intern a couple years ago, and we're all excited to see Beth grow into this new role. Still: Sarah, we're gonna miss you so damn much.
ONLINE THIS WEEK
Dry January Is Dunzo: Chronicle beer maestro Eric Puga cheers Flagship February with 14 core beers from the city's best small brewers.
Design Buildings, Demolish the Patriarchy: Does architecture have a gender equity problem? James Scott previews a Friday UT panel that looks to build a bridge between academia and the professional space.
Follow the Herd? As we near early voting kickoff for the March primary, we're gathering all the club endorsements we can find from professional organizations, unions, Dem clubs, and more. Find that list, and all our coverage from the campaign trail, at austinchronicle.com/elections.
This Week on The Austin Chronicle Show on KOOP 91.7FM
Sarah Marloff and Kahron Spearman join Editor Kim Jones to expand on their reporting in this week's issue – Marloff on the D.A. race and Spearman on Austin's first-ever African American genealogy conference.
Tune in Fridays, 3pm, to KOOP Community Radio. Past episodes at austinchronicle.com/av.