(May/June 2024 Cover)

Editor’s Letter: Introducing Our May/June Issue

A note from the new interim editor-in-chief


A version of this story ran in the May / June 2024 issue.

Texas Observer readers,

This is my first time writing to you in this space, though I’ve been writing for y’all for the last eight years. I started my journalism career as an intern here at the Observer in 2016. My only qualification then was that I worked at a migrant shelter and spoke Spanish, and the hiring editor found that intriguing. For months, I struggled to find my footing. But one day the Observer found itself in need of a series about federal immigrant detention, perhaps the only topic for which I had sources and was qualified to cover. I wrote that series and was rewarded with a cub reporter job assisting our former border and immigration ace Melissa del Bosque. Later, I graduated to full-fledged staff writer, then assistant editor, and today I write to you as the Observer’s interim editor-in-chief.

Gus Bova reports at the Capitol for the Observer in 2017 (yes, the one in the backwards baseball cap). (Sam DeGrave)

What a frightful and exciting thing. For almost three years, the Observer has labored through fire: mass staff turnover in 2021, an acute financial crisis last spring, and this year the loss of valued editorial colleagues as the organization shifts resources to its business operations. Such turmoil has often been a hallmark of our 70-year-old pioneering magazine. But I don’t glamorize these struggles. For however long I fill this role, I’ll do whatever I can to maintain some measure of stability and harmony for our writers and editors whose hands are already plenty full bird-dogging the sundry scoundrels who run this state.

As I write this, believe it or not, the Observer has roughly 6,500 paying members receiving the magazine—the most we’ve had in many years. We also have an interim executive director, a new position here, who previously led our fundraising during a time of relative budgetary well-being. We have a small but mighty editorial team and, as you well know, we have this May/June print issue hot off the presses.

The cover of the May/June 2024 issue of the Texas Observer

In these pages, you’ll find: an elegant longform profile of a Texas environmentalist and leader of an unrecognized tribe; a thought-provoking investigation into U.S. custody of Latin American antiquities; a surprising legal drama with big stakes for small-town elected officials; and a suite of other fine stories.

I’ve said it before, and I’m not the first, but the Observer’s enduring presence since 1954 is a true Texas miracle. No other state in the nation has a publication dedicated to our mix of incisive progressive-minded commentary, investigative reporting, and fearless political and cultural coverage. There’s simply nothing else quite like the Observer. God bless it, God save it, etc.


Gus Bova

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Note: Stories from the May/June issue will appear online here. To receive our print magazine, become a member here.