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Photo by Austin Monitor. Awais Azhar and Scott Turner join Council members Kathie Tovo and Vanessa Fuentes on a housing policy panel led by Monitor reporter Jonathan Lee.

City Summit: Reflections and looking ahead

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 by Joel Gross

As we enter November we’re approaching the first anniversary of removing our paywall. Though it feels like a lifetime ago, this was a major, risky and mission-driven decision for our nonprofit organization.

In the year that followed, we knew that shifting from a niche, subscription-based publication into a fully accessible community-focused news organization was going to be a big lift. We certainly wanted to get out into the community and convene readers and leaders, but given the demands of putting together these types of events, we didn’t include this in our initial plan.   

But that changed. After seeing the results of our summer poll commissioned by Notley and as the November mayoral election began to heat up, we started planning an event that went deeper into the issues and candidates’ platforms. Holding a substantive community event was always going to be hard, but (as with the decision to remove our paywall) we put our trust in the community to help guide us, advise us and ultimately join us. 

On Oct. 5, months of dedicated work came to a head when we brought together scores of folks from across the community for the Austin Monitor City Summit. This community-focused event featured in-depth panels, important conversations, valuable networking, and a marquee forum with all six Austin mayoral candidates. We are proud of this event and we’re already working to expand and improve it for 2023.  

Candidates discuss their platforms with Austin Monitor editor Elizabeth Pagano and KUT’s Audrey McGlinchy.

Two early areas for improvement jumped out. Due to our tight planning time frame and venue available, the City Summit occurred on the most holy of Jewish religious holidays, Yom Kippur. This made the event less inclusive than we had hoped for, and we will be more cognizant of other inclusivity barriers going forward.   

Community members have also asked for more panels, more diversity on panels and opportunities for real-time questions and more speaker interaction. We’re here to listen and serve the community, and this feedback will play a part in our 2023 planning and beyond.  

Speaking of feedback and advice, we’d love to hear from you about how we can strengthen our events. We view these events as an extension of our work, and bringing the community together to dive deeper into the issues we cover is a clear pathway to greater understanding and engagement. 

Share your advice and recommendations!

This has been a foundational year for us. In so many ways we feel like we’re just getting started, and we all know that the news and issues in our community are not slowing down. We took a big step forward with City Summit and we can’t wait to keep moving forward with you.

P.S. Today is the first day of our annual Newsmatch support campaign in which all donations are matched. You’ve come with us on this journey to elevate our impact and service and you’ve seen the big strides we’ve taken. Will you support our work and make a donation that will now go twice as far?    

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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