Fred Zipp


Fred Zipp has spent 32 years in daily newspaper journalism, most recently as editor of the Austin American-Statesman. He began his career in Beaumont, Texas, and then worked in West Palm Beach, Fla. Zipp graduated from Duke University in 1977 with degrees in history and French.

[TX 0201] - Part 1: Intro and Contribution (5:36)

Fred Zipp, editor, The Austin American-Statesman, started at The Statesman in 1984, left for a period, returned in 1998, and was appointed editor in 2008. Zipp says that his newspaper is dedicated to a key watchdog function: “We keep an eye on how taxpayers’ money is spent on a state or local level.” Zipp says newspapers are important because, “We have the luxury in newspapers, still, to apply a fairly rigorous intellectual and ethical standard to what we do” -- keep the community informed.

[TX 0202] - Part 2: Ethics & Content (4:09)

Fred Zipp, editor, The Austin American-Statesman, says The Statesman’s code of ethics “generally tracks the SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists] code of ethics.” Zipp says their central goal is “to maintain our credibility, our fairness and our accuracy.” The Statesman was one of the first newspapers to support anonymous online commenting from readers, but he says it can descend to “gutter sniping.” When it does, Zipp says, reader comments are removed from

[TX 0203] - Part 3: Strategic Changes (8:45)

Fred Zipp, editor, The Austin American-Statesman, says, the newsroom at The Statesman has contracted: from 210 people in 2000 to 166 today. As a result, The Statesman has reduced its regular geographic coverage area. However, Zipp says, The Statesman has retained “beat coverage of the institutions that are integral to daily life in Austin and central Texas.” Zipp adds that, since 2009, The Statesman has also expanded its “news hole” marginally, rather than reducing it further.

[TX 0204] - Part 4: Adaptation & the Future (7:02)

Fred Zipp, editor, The Austin American-Statesman, says his newspaper is “an early and enthusiastic adapter.” “We’re committed to trying to go where the audience is,” says Zipp. Looking forward Zipp says, “Ink on paper will survive in some form for the foreseeable future.” But he thinks future newspapers will “be more expensive … more analytical … and smaller in scale.”

[TX 0205] - Part 5: Prospects & Preparation (1:54)

Fred Zipp, editor, The Austin American-Statesman, says there are fewer newspaper jobs than there used to be, and the prospects for advancement are more limited. But there is still a place for people with inquiry skills, synthesis skills and communication skills in many jobs, so a career in newspapers is not a dead end.