The Texas Observer

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The Texas Observer
Categories Politics
Frequency Bimonthly
Founder Frankie Randolph and Ronnie Dugger
Year founded 1954
Country United States
Based in Austin, Texas
Language English
ISSN 0040-4519
The Texas Democracy Foundation
Founded December 31, 1991; 25 years ago (1991-12-31)[1]
Legal status 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[2]
Headquarters Austin, Texas
Services Publishes The Texas Observer
Susan Longley[3]
Dave Mann[3]
Revenue (2014)
Expenses (2014) $936,401[3]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)
Mission To foster, promote, and encourage the advancement of public affairs, government, literature, and the arts through the publication of the Texas Observer, a bimonthly periodical addressing public affairs.[3]

The Texas Observer (also known as the Observer) is an American political newsmagazine regarded as "the state's leading journalistic voice for" progressivism.[4] The Observer is published by a 501(c)(3)[2] nonprofit organization, the Texas Democracy Foundation. It is published bimonthly and based in Downtown Austin, Texas.[5][self-published source]


The Observer was founded by Frankie Randolph and founding editor Ronnie Dugger in Austin in 1954 to address topics ignored by daily newspapers in the state — such as issues affecting working people and concerning class and racism.[6] Upon its founding, Dugger declared the paper's manifesto as "We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it."

For instance, the Observer broke[7] 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.[8] Coleman was found guilty of one charge of perjury, for which he was sentenced to seven years probation.

Fitting with its "muckraking" reputation,[9] the publication's slogan is: "Sharp reporting and commentary from the strangest state in the Union." The Observer often garners more laurels from those who live outside Texas's borders than those within — The New York Review of Books described it as "That outpost of reason in the Southwest." John Kenneth Galbraith said the Observer is a "well-researched journal which more orthodox Texas statesmen feel should not have the protection of the First Amendment."[10]

The Observer operates on a shoestring budget — it accepts few advertisements, supporting itself through donations and benefit banquets.[10]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Notable staff and contributors[edit]

Notable Observer staff and contributors, past and present:


  1. ^ "The Texas Democracy Foundation". Taxable Entity Search Results. Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "The Texas Democracy Foundation[permanent dead link]". Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". The Texas Democracy Foundation. Guidestar. June 30, 2014.
  4. ^ Dugger, Ronnie. "Texas Observer". Texas State Historical Association. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Contact Archived November 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.." The Texas Observer. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  6. ^ "About Us". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2006-04-20. 
  7. ^ Blakeslee, Nate (June 23, 2000). "The Color of Justice". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2006-05-16. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Critics Picks: Media". Austin Chronicle. Best of Austin 2000. 2000. Retrieved 2006-04-10. 
  10. ^ a b Ronnie Dugger: Texas Observer from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved December 24, 2008.

External links[edit]