I'm not exactly one to grouse about "coastal elites" but it's New York and Los Angeles papers writing these "the death of local news is nigh" stories, and I for one am pretty ticked off they keep roping The Austin Chronicle into them. We've intentionally been transparent with our readers about how we're doing and what our strategy is for getting through the next weeks, but it's worth reiterating: Until you hear it from us, friends, that smell is not the stink of death, only the pungency of unwashed journalists really leaning into this work from home thing.
On the topic of media: Austin media really has risen to the occasion, don't you think? It doesn't feel like we're chasing the same clicks right now; instead, this pandemic has illuminated the unique role each outlet plays in our media ecosystem. There's room for us all here – print media and digital niche sites, TV and radio, for-profit and nonprofit – and each outlet in their own way has made a case for why they're so vital.
Quite a few of those outlets, including the Chronicle, are banding together on Friday, April 3 to host an all-day digital telethon. All proceeds will go to a new philanthropic fund called All Together ATX, a partnership of Austin Community Foundation and United Way for Greater Austin created to aid community relief efforts in Central Texas. Wherever you get your local news on Friday, you're likely to see a call for donations. If you can spare some change, please consider donating.
Just a reminder: We've gone to a biweekly printing schedule during this stretch of intense hunkering down at home. It feels good to be back in print this week, yes, but we're also dropping digital-only issues on alternating Thursdays. In case you missed it, in last week's first-ever digital issue was Michael King's final "Point Austin," his "farewell" column. I put farewell in quotes because he can't seem to quit us (yep, that's still his byline in this issue), and we don't particularly want to say goodbye either. Already a seasoned reporter, educator, and former editor of The Houston Press and The Texas Observer when he came to the Chronicle in 2000, Michael ran our news coverage for a decade and a half before transitioning into his most recent role as a staff writer. In these 20 years, he's edited and reported deeply impactful work about social and criminal justice, chronicled the inner dealings in city and state government, and mentored so many reporters and future editors. He's also a good egg and a great guy to have on your side. We wish him and his wife all the best in their retirement. Don't be strangers, y'all.
Austin at Work: Staff photographer Jana Birchum writes about the inspiration for her photo project, "Portraits of Austin Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic":
"As I've watched the COVID-19 coronavirus unfold and seen the devastating effects on Austin, I began to want to see beyond the clearly visible – the closed restaurants and boarded-over club windows, the empty grocery store shelves and the long, long lines. I wondered, what's happening to the people inside those spaces?
"As I moved around town, it seemed to me that many of us are still working. The nurses and doctors are working, of course, but so are the landscapers and car repairmen, the corner store clerks. How does the girl handling the Starbucks drive-through feel? How about the food delivery guys, the cops, the Home Depot employees?
"So I tried to look into their faces a bit. Looking for the fear and the light. Both are there. We're scared. We're all scared. But we're also just at work. Doing our jobs, so everyone can keep on going. Happy to serve. Happy to still be getting paid. Just moving through, until we see the end of this, whatever that may look like."
Chronicle Cooking Launches This Week: Food Editor Jessi Cape debuts Chronicle Cooking, a new recipe hub that gathers up all of our recipes from the archive (including my sweet ma's Hot Dr. Pepper!) and debuts new ones from Chronicle staff, local chefs, and Austin personalities. Sign up now for the companion newsletter that goes out on Mondays so you'll never miss a new recipe. Find out more on in Jessi's introduction in this week's issue.
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