The Texas Observer

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The Texas Observer
FounderFrankie Randolph and Ronnie Dugger
Year founded1954
CountryUnited States
Based inAustin, Texas

The Texas Observer (also known as the Observer) is an American magazine. The Observer is published bimonthly by a 501(c)(3)[1] nonprofit organization, the Texas Democracy Foundation. Its mission, as declared by founding editor Ronnie Dugger, is to "serve no group or party but ... hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it".[2] It is headquartered in Austin, Texas.[3][self-published source]


The Observer was founded by Frankie Randolph and Dugger in Austin in 1954 to address topics often ignored by daily newspapers in the state, such as those affecting working people and concerning class and racism.[4][5]

In the 1970s, Molly Ivins—who served as the Observer's co-editor and a political reporter—helped solidify the publication's reputation. Since, it has engaged in major investigative work.

Among other highlights, the Observer broke[6] the story of an allegedly crooked narcotics investigation in Tulia, Texas, that led to front-page coverage in The New York Times and other national news outlets. Tom Coleman, the narcotics investigator in the tiny town, was eventually accused of trumping up drug bust information, mostly aimed at African Americans. Coleman claimed he had made more than 100 undercover drug purchases from 46 different drug dealers (40 of whom were black). About a dozen of the accused were sentenced, some for up to 90 years (based upon his personal accounts with no corroborating evidence) before authorities stopped to investigate Coleman's practices, largely due to the Observer's reporting.[7] Coleman was found guilty of one charge of perjury, for which he was sentenced to seven years probation.

The Observer also published a series by Dave Mann that looks at flaws in Texas arson investigations,[8] and in 2015 the publication won both a National Magazine Award[9] and an Emmy for its "Beyond the Border" series.

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Notable staff and contributors[edit]

Notable Observer staff and contributors, past and present:


  1. ^ "The Texas Democracy Foundation". Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ "About the Texas Observer". The Texas Observer. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  3. ^ "Contact" Archived November 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Texas Observer. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  4. ^ "About Us". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2006-04-20.
  5. ^ Moyers, Bill (2005-11-21). "The Texas Observer at 50". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  6. ^ Blakeslee, Nate (June 23, 2000). "The Color of Justice". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2006-05-16.
  7. ^ Blakeslee, Nate (November 8, 2002). "Can You Hear Me Now?". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2005-11-10. Retrieved 2006-05-16.
  8. ^ "Fire and Innocence - The Texas Observer". The Texas Observer. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  9. ^ "National Magazine Awards 2015 Winners Announced | ASME". Retrieved 2017-10-03.

External links[edit]