Many chapters have been written by and about the Austin American-Statesman since our first edition hit the streets of early Austin in 1871. Today I’m grateful we can begin the next chapter in the Statesman’s future.
As we announced earlier today, the Statesman and all its affiliated products and services have been acquired by New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally-based media in the U.S.
GateHouse is no stranger to Texas, where the company operates seven daily publications, eight weeklies and nine shoppers. Additionally, their Center for News and Design (CND) is located right here in Austin and employs more than 200 designers and editors. In total, GateHouse produces 142 daily newspapers, and over 675 community publications, including several Statesman sections that the Center for News and Design produces under a previous agreement.
There are three big reasons I’m excited about this next chapter: our people, the work we do, and Austin itself.
In announcing GateHouse’s acquisition of the Statesman, Jason Taylor, president of Western U.S. Publishing Operations, called out the iconic Statesman brand, the quality of our journalism, and strength of the Austin market, as key factors of the acquisition. I couldn’t agree more.
The Statesman is at its best because talented, passionate people — many of them seasoned veterans — work in every area of our business. In fact, our strongest asset is those people, whose dedication and engagement make us what we are. It’s always been our people that set us apart.
It’s the great work our people do, day in and day out, that makes us an iconic brand — not just in Austin, but across Texas and the country. We are the best newspaper in Texas (Texas Associated Press Media Editors said so three out of the last four years). Just a few of our recent wins, all on the national stage:
- Statesman videographer Reshma Kirpalani was awarded second place for multimedia photographer of the year in the prestigious Pictures of the Year International competition for her portfolio of work.
- Statesman sportswriter Rick Cantu has been recognized as a Top 10 finalist in explanatory writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. The Statesman’s HookEm.com and daily and Sunday sports print sections were also recognized with honorable mentions in their respective categories.
- Our Ahora Si team won 13 Jose Marti awards for excellence in Spanish-language journalism at the National Association of Hispanic Publishers conference last year.
The work we do
It’s a critical time for journalism as major movements like #metoo and #neveragain play out amid the shifting sands of U.S. politics, all fueled by the hastening pace of digital and social media changes.
I’m so proud of the work we do that you count on us for:
- Projects that deliver stories Central Texas might not otherwise ever hear, such as “A Question of Restraint,” and multimedia efforts like “The Talk.”
- Wall-to-wall comprehensive coverage of topics that matter, including all-things-burnt-orange by our Hookem.com team, and all-things-tech and Austin business by our 512tech.com team, and everything you’d ever need to know about food, dining and entertainment by our expert Austin360.com team.
- Urgent coverage of breaking news like Hurricane Harvey and the tragic shooting at the Sutherland Springs church.
- Community events like Season for Caring, that set a record, raising more than $1 million this year; and Statesman Cap10K, the largest 10k in Texas and 6th-largest in the country, that we’ve owned and operated for 40 years.
- Advertising programs such as Austin360 Studio Sessions, Recognizing Nurses, and 50ATX, that show our creative and innovative approach to connecting our clients with their audiences.
And it’s an important time in Austin’s evolution. Whether you’re concerned about local elections, CodeNext, SXSW, mobility, affordability or any number of critical issues, we lead the way keeping you informed. The Statesman is all about local journalism.
I’m optimistic about what comes next, partly because that’s simply the way I’m wired but also because I believe we are a good fit with a media company that is focused on newspapers and local journalism, and engaged in defining the future of local news. I believe we can contribute in meaningful ways to that equation.
My job in the coming weeks and months will be to focus on running the business, making sure we have a solid operating plan in place and a smooth transition with our new owners. Most importantly, all of us — the people who make up the Statesman — will continue the work we do best, being the best newspaper in Texas.
Rest assured whatever happens next, the Statesman will be here bringing you the stories of Central Texans.
Susie Gray Biehle has been the publisher of Austin American-Statesman for more than five years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-445-3555.