The Texas Observer writes about issues ignored or underreported in the mainstream press. Our goal is to cover stories crucial to the public interest and to provoke dialogue that promotes democratic participation and open government, in pursuit of a vision of Texas where education, justice and material progress are available to all.
The Observer has led the state’s major dailies and national media to many stories first ignored by mainstream outlets. The New York Times, Harper’s, 60 Minutes, 20/20, and ABC News have followed the lead of Texas Observer stories. The Observer led the state and the country to the story of a racially-tinted and suspect drug sting in Tulia, Texas.Its award-winning writing is consistently recognized by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Project Censored, the Texas League of Women Voters, and the State Bar of Texas. The Observer has been a finalist for the Katie Awards and the National Magazine Awards, and was recently selected as the winner for Best Political Coverage in The Utne Reader’s 2005 Utne Independent Press Awards.
From its inception, the Observer went where other publications in the state would not go. Editors Bob Sherrill, Billy Lee Brammer, and Willie Morris helped make the Observer one of the most respected publications in the nation. In the 1970s, Kaye Northcott and Molly Ivins set a standard for legislative coverage that has challenged every editor who followed. And Jim Hightower focused the Observer and its readers on the political economy - anticipating the absolute ascent of the global economy that would occur ten or fifteen years later. Current editors Jake Bernstein and Barbara Belejack continue the tradition.
Writing about Texas literature and the arts has always been a part of the Observer. In the mid-1980s, editor Geoff Rips raised the profile of this content by creating a separate section of the periodical dedicated to this writing, called Books and the Culture. Editors Louis Dubose and Michael King enhanced and expanded it with literary essays and established a poetry page under the editorship of nationally acclaimed San Antonio poet and writer Naomi Shihab Nye.
In 1954 Houstonian Frankie Randolph - one of the heirs to the Kirby lumber estate and an Adlai Stevenson Democrat - set out to create a newspaper that would cover issues ignored by the state’s daily newspapers - issues dealing with race and class and the lives of working people. Ms. Randolph bought the State Observer, brought in Marshall lawyer Franklin Jones who owned the East Texas Democrat, and called Ronnie Dugger to the Driskill Hotel in Austin to offer him the job as editor of the new Texas Observer. He accepted.
In 1994, Ronnie Dugger transferred ownership of the Observer to the Texas Democracy Foundation, which was established as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization to publish and promote the Observer.
Every two weeks, The Texas Observer provides a view of Texas found nowhere else ‑ Sharp reporting and commentary from the strangest state in the union!
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