Harry Austin, Chattanooga Times page editor, to retire

Harry Austin, Chattanooga Times page editor, to retire

April 10th, 2013 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

Harry Austin

Harry Austin, editorial page editor for The Chattanooga Times opinion page, will retire next month after 37 years with the newspaper.

The 67-year-old journalist, who has been the Times editorial page editor for the past 14 years, said he will leave the newspaper May 3 to spend more time traveling, riding his horse and enjoying retirement.

"I've had a great opportunity in this job to talk and write about events around the world, but the time has come for me to move on to the next chapter of my life," Austin said.

Alison Gerber, managing editor for the Times Free Press, said the newspaper will name a successor to Austin in coming weeks.

"The newspaper will continue to publish two editorial pages," she said. "This is a feature unique to this newspaper, and we want to continue to honor the legacy of both the Times and Free Press."

The Times Free Press is unique among American daily newspapers in preserving both a more liberal or progressive editorial page, The Chattanooga Times -- appropriately on the left -- and the Free Press editorial page, whose editor is Drew Johnson.

Austin worked as a copy editor, reporter and opinion writer at The Chattanooga Times, covering crime, education, courts and county government. He has been the editorial page editor for the Times since the Chattanooga Times Free Press was created in 1999 with the merger of the morning Times and the afternoon Free Press.

Austin's editorials won top honors in 2012 from the Tennessee Association Press Management Editors, the latest among nearly a dozen journalism awards. Austin also served in leadership roles with the National Conference of Editorial Writers and recently completed a three-year Robert Bosch Stiftung German Foundation Fellowship program.

"Harry's voice has played a significant part in the fabric of this community for decades," said Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "He has challenged Chattanooga and the greater region while championing positions that weren't always the most popular."

Austin, a Chattanooga native, began his newspaper career working in sports while still in high school. After graduating from the University of Chattanooga in 1968, Austin worked at the newspaper for a couple more years before he began traveling through Europe, Africa and Asia over the next five years.

"Living and working abroad was the greatest experience of my life and showed me how other people and cultures live," Austin said.

Austin worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1980 to 1988 before returning to the Times as one of its opinion writers.

He says that helped shape his writing and a desire to push local initiatives to promote urban revitalization, historic preservation and better community planning and neighborhood development.

"I have tried not to be a partisan as much as an advocate for making our community a better place to live," he said.