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The Texas Observer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Texas Observer
FounderFrankie Randolph and Ronnie Dugger
CompanyTexas Democracy Foundation
CountryUnited States
Based inAustin, Texas

The Texas Observer (also known as the Observer) is an American magazine with a liberal political outlook.[1] The Observer is published bimonthly by a 501(c)(3)[2] nonprofit organization, the Texas Democracy Foundation. It is based in Austin, Texas.[3]

On March 27, 2023, it announced that it was ceasing publication.[4] However, on March 29, it was announced that publication will continue following a successful crowdfunding campaign by staff.[5]


The Observer was founded by Frankie Randolph and Ronnie 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.[6][7]

According to Texas Public Radio (TPR), the early Observer "represented the liberal wing of the once-conservative Democratic Party" that was dominant in Texas. During this period, the Observer was critical of conservative or moderate Texas Democrats, including Lyndon B. Johnson during his Senate tenure and Governors Allan Shivers and John Connally.[8] In the 1970s, Molly Ivins served as the Observer's co-editor and a political reporter.[9]

In 2010, the Observer published an exposé on then-Governor Rick Perry's "Enterprise Fund". The report found that 20 recipients of the 55 grants available through the fund were given to Perry campaign contributors or contributors to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) after he became chairman.[10][11]

In March 2023, the board of the Observer's parent organization, the nonprofit Texas Democracy Foundation, voted to close the publication and lay off its 17 employees, including 13 journalists.[4] A crowdfunding campaign to save the publication raised over $300,000 in two days, spread mostly through word of mouth via Mastodon.[5][12] The campaign was successful.[13]

Notable staff and contributors[edit]

Notable Observer staff and contributors, past and present:


  1. ^ Patoski, Joe Nick (1 July 2001). "Liberalism Lives!". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  2. ^ "The Texas Democracy Foundation". Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  3. ^ "Contact" Archived November 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Texas Observer. Retrieved on May 6, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Chan, Sewell; Formby, Brandon (27 March 2023). "Texas Observer, legendary crusading liberal magazine, is closing and laying off its staff". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b Chan, Sewell (2023-03-29). "Texas Observer will continue publishing after staff crowdfunds more than $300,000". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2023-03-29.
  6. ^ "About Us". The Texas Observer. Archived from the original on 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2006-04-20.
  7. ^ Moyers, Bill (2005-11-21). "The Texas Observer at 50". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  8. ^ Chan, Sewell (2023-03-27). "Texas Observer, legendary crusading liberal magazine, is closing and laying off its staff". TPR. Retrieved 2023-03-29.
  9. ^ Minutaglio, Bill; Smith, W. Michael (2009). Molly Ivins : a rebel life. Internet Archive. New York : PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-717-1.
  10. ^ MacGillis, Alec (2017-01-03). "Rick Perry's Texas Giveaways". ProPublica. Retrieved 2023-03-29. In 2010, the Texas Observer reported that 20 of the 55 Enterprise Fund grant recipients up to that point had contributed directly to Perry's campaign or the Republican Governor's Association, of which he became chairman in 2010.
  11. ^ Liebelson, Dana (2013-03-20). "Rick Perry's $487 Million Corporate Slush Fund Doesn't Need Your Stinkin' Audit". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2023-03-29.
  12. ^ Wong, Julia Carrie (2023-03-29). "Texas Observer journalists raise $270,000 in bid to save publication". The Guardian. Retrieved 2023-03-29.
  13. ^ "We Did It, Y'all! Texas Observer Will Remain Open!". The Texas Observer. 2023-03-29. Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  14. ^ "Jake Bernstein". The Texas Observer. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  15. ^ "Molly Ivins". The Texas Observer. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  16. ^ "Aug 12, 1960 Issue | Texas Observer Print Archives". issues.texasobserver.org. Retrieved 2022-07-20.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]