(Bradley Wilson)

Austonia reporter Emma Freer reviews a story, pre-pandemic.

As a local reporter, I'm well versed in deciphering city council meeting agendas, press releases and COVID dashboards.

But even I'm overwhelmed by the current news cycle, which is crammed with critical stories—from pandemic trends and seemingly daily local policy changes to the upcoming 2020 election and post office updates.

So we at Austonia would like to offer readers a new way to get the news you want and need—at your fingertips.

By signing up for the free Austonia Text trial program, you'll receive one text, maybe two, with the day's top stories—straight from the reporters who wrote them.

I've been leading this effort and have found it to be a great way to chat with readers. So far, they've shared questions, follow-up story ideas and even some constructive criticism. In exchange, I send out one of our top stories each day, along with some behind-the-scenes commentary.

This service is the only one of its kind in the Austin area, and we'll only use it when we think a story merits the extra ping. We're testing it out for 90 days to see if it's a valuable resource for our readers. If enough people are interested, we may make this service an Austonia staple.

In this strange pandemic period, I've been working from home, which means spending a lot of time on the phone and navigating my email inbox. Being able to communicate directly with readers—whom I otherwise would have talked to in the lobby of City Hall or on the bus or at a coffee shop—has been a welcome addition to my day. I hope you'll join in.

You can sign up by clicking on this link or typing your phone number into the box located in the sidebar of the website.

(Photo courtesy of Marisela Maddox)

Marisela Maddox's two children complete their online schooling from home, a reason she decided she needed to bring in extra help.

Marisela Maddox is no stranger to the nanny game, having hired at-home caregivers in the past to help with her two children, ages 5 and 10.

Keep Reading Show less


  • 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz tonic water
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 5 grapes, muddled

Directions: Muddle grapes in a shaker. Add Tito's Handmade Vodka, simple syrup, lime, and ice, then shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice and top with tonic water.

(Eva Rinaldi/Creative Commons)

An Austin man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stalking and sending threatening letters and emails to pop star Taylor Swift's former record label.

Keep Reading Show less

In a historic win for college athletes and voter advocates, led by former NBA champion and Austinite Chris Bosh, the NCAA voted this week to require an annual November Election Day "off day" for Division 1 student athletes to vote or volunteer in election activities if they choose.

Keep Reading Show less

Austin Trail of Lights will take place this holiday season.

The Austin Trail of Lights—an annual event that transforms Zilker Park into a winter wonderland, featuring more than 60 displays and two million lights—will take place this holiday season, despite the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less
(Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that restaurants and other businesses can expand their capacity to 75% starting on Monday in most parts of the state.

In most of the state, businesses that had been limited to 50% capacity—including retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, libraries, museums and gyms—can move to 75% capacity starting on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Thursday. Bars must remain closed.

Keep Reading Show less