Tim Lott

VP Audience Strategy, Austin American-Statesman

Austin, TX

[TX-E 0301]

I was our San Marcos Bureau. San Marcos is 30 miles south of here on the road to San Antonio. It’s kind of the outer edge of our southern circulation. And I had done a year as a copy editor on the sports desk, and I was anxious to get back to reporting, and I said, “Sure. How about going to San Marcos?” So I became the San Marcos Bureau, which was my apartment in San Marcos – it’s a college town.

And there was a fire on the edge of San Marcos – right at the – right on the kinda’ edge of the city limits and kinda’ as you get into the un-incorporated county out in the country. And two kids died in this fire. And some reporting that I did uncovered the fact that firefighters, on the scene, responded – one crew from the city, one crew from a volunteer fire department that was at the county level – and they actually, literally, physically fought over who would get to put the fire out. And while they fought – two kids died.

It was just outrageous on its face. Not that you don’t understand that, you know, the volunteer fire fighters – they kinda’ constantly need to improve their skills and so on and so forth – but there was a territorialism – two government agencies, literally fighting, while the children in the house died.

Now, I think, conceivably, the kids in the house could’ve been dead already, but the point that firefighters were fighting over who gets the glory of putting out a fire – while, while kids died – was just outrageous and a really good reminder of, you know, why I got into the business – because that kind of thing shouldn’t happen.

And that’s, to me – that’s kinda’ newspaper work at its best.