Mark Dewey is a news/technology junkie and austonia.com's publisher. He started his career covering murders, fires, and wrecks for a tv station in the Mississippi Delta, writing national news in CNN's Washington bureau and working behind the scenes at NBC Sports. He spent the 90s at AOL, creating and managing big content sites. Mark moved to Austin in 2005, working in public media and teaching journalism at the Univ. of Texas at Austin. Austonia was born from all of those experiences, plus months of interviews with people who've tried/failed/succeeded/helped/hindered or thought deeply about local digital media.
(Note: Austonia's publisher chooses five of the week's "most read" stories)
1. All adults (16-and-up) are now eligible for COVID vaccines, according to new state guidelines. But priority should still be to vaccinate those 80 and older.
2. Austin City Council votes to restart the APD cadet academy, launches search for Chief Manley's replacement and appoints an interim chief after the year starts with a surge in murders.
3. Bad news if you're looking for a home, good news if you're selling one, but either way Austin's residential real estate market continues to burn brightly, with not enough supply to match the number of interested buyers.
4. The week's best headline and a thought-provoking piece. Are you going to ease into your former life, or go right for the mosh pit?
5. SXSW has somehow survived the unlucky timing of two non-IRL-festival years, with 2020's cancelation and 2021's shortened virtual festival. Bring on 2022's extravaganza!
(Note: stories chosen by Austonia's publisher as the week's most impactful)
1. Austin's leaders are refusing to answer the question of how much the city's coal and nuclear plants contributed to the city's deep dreeze power mix.
2. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, potential gatekeeper to billions in federal funding for Austin's Project Connect, sounds supportive at SXSW appearance.
3. Futbol's strong appeal in Latin America brings well-loved traditions to Austin FC, Austin's hispanic community and the entire city.
4. Emma Freer's three-part "Gone to Texas" series covers centuries of Austin's growth and looks at how Hispanic, Black, Southern, German and Asian populations—some by immigration, some by "redistricting," and some enslaved—were elemental to creating our modern city.
- Gone to Texas: The golden goose behind Austin's post-recession growth—and why it might be threatened
- Gone to Texas: The WWII-era roots of Austin's big tech industry
- Gone to Texas: Where it all started for Austin's boomtown status
5. As South Congress, and the rest of our city, undergoes continuing transformation, hotelier Liz Lambert reflects on change: "You're losing something to create something new."
You can't really ever go back, and we can't revive the days or the vibe or the "just right" Twitter and Facebook feeds of the Austinist.
But we've picked up what little is left, wrapped a blanket around it, given it a warm bath and a hot meal, and we're getting to know it.
Austinist was a collaborative, engaged, wide-ranging reflection of Austin at a slightly weirder time. According to the Austin Chronicle, it was shut down in 2014 by its New York based corporate owners because it wasn't getting the "attention it deserves."
After shutdown, it unravelled—website offline, links broken, archives lost, email lists gone—with nothing remaining but the Twitter and Facebook feeds, idle. The pieces passed into the hands of WNYC, New York's public radio station, who graciously sent them home.
With advice and leadership from Austin journalist Omar Gallaga, Austonia is reviving Austinist on Twitter. It will be called Austinist for a couple of months before becoming Austonia, replacing our existing Twitter feed.
We can't "be" the Austinist, but we're taking the opportunity to learn from the past. Our own social media feeds are mostly posts of our website stories. We didn't set out to make our social media an afterthought, but honestly, that's what we've done.
Inspired by Austinist, and led by Omar, we're doing our best to create something that Austin once treasured and has since missed:
- Focusing on life in Austin
- News you might not have heard
- Tweets from other sources—local people, journalists, and other local publications—spotlighting the interesting and important
- A laugh or at least a smile
- Interactive, responsive, and evolving
In short, we're working hard to make this something special. Everyone at Austonia will be involved. We'll do our best to listen, and learn from what you tell us.
If there's anything you want us to know about Austinist, or what you're looking for in a revival, get in touch with Omar or me, email@example.com. Thanks!