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It Was a Very Good Year

by Published on

Every media outlet on earth is running year-in-review pieces this week. Here at The Texas Observer, we usually don’t follow the media crowd, but in this case, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize what our writers and editors accomplished in 2013. Thanks to their hard work (and the generous support of people like you), we’ve published more impact stories, won more awards, and attracted more readers in 2013 than ever before. Among our successes: 

—For only the second time, the Observer was a finalist for a National Magazine Award—the highest honor in magazine journalism. That was one of five national journalism awards our writers either won or were nominated for.

—We reported how the Texas Medical Board allowed a Dallas back surgeon to continue practicing—despite numerous complaints—after two of his patients died and five others were severely injured. Our story led to calls to reform the Medical Board.

—Emily DePrang wrote a two-part series on police brutality and accountability in Houston. Emily’s reporting revealed that HPD almost never disciplines its officers for abuse, and that in a five-year span HPD officers were involved in 550 shootings—the department deemed every single shooting “justified.” That included the killing of a wheelchair-bound mentally ill man with one arm and one leg who was armed with only a pen. The Houston Chronicle, CNN and HuffPost followed up on Emily’s reporting with their own stories about HPD. Thanks to Emily’s ground-breaking reporting, people in Houston are now talking seriously about reform.

—In July, Forrest Wilder discovered that payday loan companies were seeking criminal prosecutions against hundreds of customers simply for being in debt. Forrest’s reporting led the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, a state agency, to warn payday loan companies that they’re not allowed to threaten borrowers with criminal prosecution.

—And our most widely read story of the year was a moving first-person account by Rachel Pearson, a medical student working at a free clinic in Galveston who has watched her uninsured patients die needlessly from treatable conditions. We titled the piece “Texas’ Other Death Penalty,” because for uninsured people with cancer and other chronic conditions, that’s all our so-called safety net offers: a death sentence. Hundreds of thousands read the piece.Rachel even got a call from the White House about the piece.

That’s just a sampling. For a fuller accounting, check out our best stories of 2013 here.

And more people are reading the Observer than ever before. This year we’ve doubled our web readership from 2012—to 1.2 million unique visitors.

In 2014, we plan to keep breaking big stories, uncovering corruption and injustices, telling stories that others haven’t—or won’t—and bringing you compelling narratives and insightful cultural coverage.

Thank you for reading and supporting the Observer and happy New Year.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.

  • 1bimbo

    please accept my request to feature articles from texas-bred journalists with texas charm and appeal. my head is reeling from all the articles on here by liberal transplants with anti-texas, anti-conservative perspectives attacking and/or ignoring faith, family and freedom. thank you for considering it. (on a positive note: i did enjoy the gun show feature!)

    • Jed

      [please run more articles i like by people who share the same picayune sensibilities and ascribe them to all texans as i do. my head reels from the open exchange of ideas and critical thought being exhibited here by people who don’t share my view that all texans are and should be conservative, religious and political zealots.]

      bimbo, i am a liberal atheist who moved to texas 45 years ago. i don’t wear no stetson, but i’m willing to bet (son) that i’m as big a texan as you are.

      in the meantime, i wish i could attack and/or ignore your faith, family and freedom as you suggest i might, except that as a liberal i am committed to respecting everyone’s families and freedoms (not just those i agree with). as a conservative, you might want to think about that.

      • 1bimbo

        Jed: why ain’t you the Anti-Texan! as long as you’ve been here, i’d think you’d understand that texas holds a ‘live and let live’ attitude and that’s why so many people including you have been clamoring to come live here. however, you are NOT guaranteed a ‘right’ NOT to be offended and you sure as h*ll have no right to mandate your liberal atheist views be written into state policy. don’t forget the unwritten texas social contract which clearly states ‘we ain’t gonna do a ton to help you, but we wont’ stand in your way either.’ the looney liberal media and your ilk do their best to stand in the way of what the majority and what conservatives wants in this state. so don’t be surprised when we push back.

        • DavidD

          Most people don’t vote so I don’t see how any one side can claim majority stastus. and as a third generation Texan I wouldn’t advocate pushing anybody but for everyone following the rule of law.
          Push too hard and get ready to do time in one of our institutions.

          • 1bimbo

            who would you advocate ‘do time’ for violating the rule of law. does that include the justice department following the ‘rule of law’ which prohibits the sale of recreational marijuana? or the ‘rule of law’ that mandates a US president enforce immigration laws set forth by the constitution? or what about ‘rule of law’ which prohibits citizens from being forced into involuntary servitude against their religious beliefs? then there’s the ‘rule of law’ which mandates the president enforce – not delay, alter or change – laws passed by congress?

          • DavidD

            People going around advocating pushing people around that don’t agreee with thier politics,Left or right.
            That type of advocacy of an illegal behavior is right on the line of a threat whoever says it.

          • 1bimbo

            free speech is not ‘threat’. i suspect you haven’t read the constitution and you probably didn’t do well on the SAT either.