Louis Black (Austin Chronicle & SXSW)

From Portraits of The Shift

Louis Black, Editor - The Austin Chronicle, Co-Founder & Director - South by Southwest (SXSW)

Louis is a great character and was very accomodating in my visit to the Chronicle in Austin, which is one of the most respected Alternative Newsweeklies in the country. Add in the SXSW festival, which is world renowned and 23 years old now, and this was a real score for the project. Thanks Louis!

Watch the whole interview:

Age: 58

Political Orientation: Idependent, but prob dominantly democratic for a long time

Religion/Religious Affiliation: Jewish

Job Title(s): Editor of the Austin Chronicle, Co-Founder of SXSW (South by Southwest festival)

Role in the Community:
I’ve always thought of us as a community newspaper. We’re a way for that community to interact with each other, and crucial to that group is independent businesses.

Relationship with the Local Independent Community:
We’re symbiotic. We’re very dependent on the Mom & Pop businesses in the community, and I hope they’re dependent on us.

On Price Increases over the years:
A lot of papers do across the board increases, like 10%. We’d always do like a V thing, where the most smallest ads don’t go up at all and the larger ads go up a lot, so Mom & Pop businesses could keep advertising with us.

Our 1/16 of a page ad costs about what it did about 15 years ago, so we’re really conscious of that relationship.

If the Local Independent community were an animal, what animal would it be and why?
It wouldn’t be one animal, nothing in Austin is ever one anything. It’d be like a herd of cats. Austin is amazing in that it’s a town where everyone is involved, so on any civic decision, you’ve got 16 different groups that have interests. So sometimes it moves very slowly….I think the nature of independent businesses are that of very strong visionaries, but I think its

Talk about a time the community lost a business and it had an impact.
We’ve lost lots of clubs over the years….there’s still people that miss the Liberty Lunch. Its more music clubs, because it’s a music oriented town. (The music scene) it ebbs and flows, so sometimes a number of clubs will close and its been awkward for a while, but it always kind of repaired itself and things tend to shift….the scene comes back.

What one lesson or piece of advice could you share with anyone who might see this?
Learn how to brand. I hate the word, I hate the concept but I can brand like nobodys business. Don’t’ get cute and don’t get clever, and you wanna establish that (your brand, know what you are).

The other thing is never go against the other guy, promote yourself. Don’t talk about how the other guy sucks….talk about what you do right. Because you don’t want people to feel bad when they go there, because then they’re going to try not to listen to you.

What one message would you deliver to anyone who might see this?
Independent businesses are what create community. Now, I travel around the country starting 35 years ago and you used go around the country and visit places that were unique. And now you travel around the country and a lot of those places are gone, there are still some places that have it, but more and more you see the same chain stores, and the same restaurants and the same everything. And the reality is that Indepenent Businesses help define the culture of the community and I really believe everything comes out of community.


Post a Comment