It’s been nearly a year since Decibel began covering the Del Valle community through our brand of community-led journalism. Our coverage of Del Valle has translated into 34 unique stories about the community that were each inspired by listening to the community.
As our year of coverage in Del Valle comes to an end, we have a new Central Texas community we will be pivoting to cover in the next few months: Pflugerville. But before you can understand how we decided what community we will be covering next, let’s consider Decibel’s work over the past year, which brought us to this point.
Last year, in February 2021, Austin PBS’s Community Advisory Board chose Del Valle as the community the Decibel team would cover for the next year. The Community Advisory Board, or CAB, is made up of 30 diverse individuals from Central Texas who help guide Austin PBS in a variety of ways. Over the last year covering Del Valle, Decibel has created 13 documentary packages, seven voices packages, six event recaps, four behind the scenes packages, three photo essays and one explainer piece. Each piece examined a different aspect of the Del Valle community such as how residents struggle with the traffic, how the community deals with living in a food desert or how one resident is rekindling the car club culture in the area, to name a few.
We gathered data from every source we used in our stories throughout the past year working in Del Valle. Our team does this to hold ourselves accountable to one of our six core values stated in our mission which is representation. In order to ensure we are accurately representing a community that we are covering, we periodically compare the source data to the most recent Census data of the community.
When compared to the most recent census data, with a few exceptions, Decibel was largely successful in meeting our goal of representing the community in an accurate way. Our team overwhelmingly used sources from the southeast region of Travis County where Del Valle resides. The ages of our sources come from a wide range from 18 to 74 years of age. The majority of our source’s income falls within the $25,000 to $100,000 range when the median household income of the area is $68,673. When it comes to race and ethnicity, Decibel did a solid job of representing the community through our sources with 48.6% Hispanic/Latino, 27% White, 18.9% Black or African American, 2.7 % American Indian or Alaskan Native and both Asian or Asian American and those who preferred not to say garnered 1.4% respectively.
When our team began considering locations we could possibly focus on next, we knew we wanted to continue to tell stories about communities that are often overlooked or overshadowed by the Austin-centric daily news produced by local news outlets. This led us to narrow our focus to San Marcos, Pflugerville and Manor. For each location, we created community briefs that detailed many facets of each city such as population size, demographics, age range and how the area is currently portrayed in the media.
These community briefs were shared with Austin PBS’ CAB and our executive editor, Samantha Guzman, presented these briefs during their last meeting on February 16, 2022. Guzman drew attention to how Pflugerville and San Marcos were similar in population size while Manor was much less populated. She pointed out that San Marcos, being a college town, naturally contained a much younger population compared to the other two cities. Another important detail Guzman brought to the board's attention was the fact that Manor and Pflugerville both contain two of the largest Black populations of all of Central Texas. One of Guzman’s final points was how poverty is affecting each location. While Pflugerville holds the lowest percentage of people living in poverty between the three cities, Manor has a surprisingly large percentage of seniors living in poverty (34%) and San Marcos has a shocking amount of children living in poverty (34%).
After the presentation, the board discussed which of the locations they thought should be our next project focus. One board member advocated for his colleagues to choose Manor because of the Black cowboy history that the city holds within its community. Another board member made her argument for choosing San Marcos. She said that although it’s well known that the university resides in San Marcos, there are many stories and communities that get overshadowed by the dominance of the school and it’s students. Then one board member spoke up on why he thought his coworkers on the board should choose Pflugerville. This board member argued that since Austin PBS is about to complete it’s move from its long-time home on the University of Texas campus to its new home on Austin Community College’s Highland campus, it would be logical to try to build relationships in the closest community of the three which would be Pflugerville. The same board member also brought up the fact that the city was not only diverse when it comes to race and ethnicity but also with age. Other board members also highlighted the pattern of East Austin residents being pushed out of their neighborhoods and deciding to move to Pflugerville.
After all board members got a chance to argue in favor of the location they wanted Decibel to focus on next, it was time for members to take it to a vote. The results were interesting because it was not a unanimous decision like the board made when they chose Del Valle last year. Out of the 17 members who participated in this meeting, five voted for San Marcos, four voted for Manor and nine voted for Pflugerville.
In the next few weeks, we will begin to make inroads toward Pflugerville by using direct outreach to members of the community and hosting a listening session sometime soon. Whether those sessions are held in-person or online is yet to be determined so please stay tuned to find out the latest. If you live in Pflugerville, we want to get to know you and your neighborhood. Please fill out this information needs survey to help us get our work started. And if you have story ideas or want to help us set up a listening session, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got story ideas, advice on how we can improve our reporting or just want to know more about what we do? Reach out to us at email@example.com.
And if you value this type of reporting, then please consider making a donation to Austin PBS. Your gift makes the quality journalism done by the Decibel team possible. Thank you for your contribution.
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