Texas Observer, Pioneering Investigative Liberal Magazine, to Shutter Operations

The bimonthly magazine will lay off its entire staff


The Texas Observer, a progressive nonprofit news organization known for its investigative reporting, is coming to an end. After just shy of seven decades in operation, the publication is closing down and laying off the entire 17-person staff. The board of the nonprofit Texas Democracy Foundation, which owns the Observer, voted to shutter the operation last Wednesday.

The news was first reported by the Texas Tribune on Sunday night, leading many of the Observer’s staffers to learn from another outlet that they were losing their jobs. Former board member Robert R. Frump, who ran the magazine’s business operations as a special advisor, resigned in protest after the board’s vote, the Tribune reports.

According to the Texas Tribune, the Board of Directors considered moving to an online-only publication in an effort to shrink the publication’s budget — a necessary measure because The Observer notably doesn’t accept advertising — but ultimately the decision was made to shutter operations entirely as the outlet struggled to increase donors and subscribers.

The Texas Observer was founded in Austin in 1954, by by Frankie Randolph and Dugger, and was created to cover topics often ignored by daily newspapers in the state, particularly those affecting marginalized communities. In the 1970s, the publication was co-edited by Molly Ivins, who also served as a political reporter for the Observer.

“We seek not only to inform, but to empower our readers, as we work to hold public officials and corporations accountable,” the site says. “Our reporters recognize that oppressed people are experts on their own lives and trust their expertise.”

With the closing of the Observer, 13 journalists will lose their jobs.