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point. This was successfully avoided by doubling the staff to two. Dugger paid himself $110 a week. The other editor, William Brammer, received $100. By the time I arrived in 1958, the Observer was again threatening to break even. Dugger raised himself to $120 and I received $110. Mrs. Randolph’s aid now became more of a gesture of solidarity than an absolute necessity. Dugger’s journal had become a fixture in political Texas. In the 1960’s the Observer balance sheets ceased to show red ink and, I gather, expenses have subsequently risen to meet income. I would not be surprised to learn that the current incumbents, Molly Ivins and Kaye Northcott, receive $130 a week. As Observer editors came, learned, exhausted themselves, and left, Dugger’s presence sharpened the definition of his journal. In my judgment, the real story of the , paper, and of its writers, lies in the relationship each of them had with the founding editor. Dugger may not have John Updike’s gift for metaphor, but in a quiet and unobtrusive way that only his colleagues understood and appreciated, he played an absolutely crucial role in fashioning the ground rules for a new kind of expanded American journalism. It was one that went quite beyond the “whowhat-when-where-and-why” of the old school to provide the essential background information necessary to coherent interpretation. Long before Norman Mailer wrote his celebrated account of the 1960 Democratic national convention, long before Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson became the beneficiaries and proponents of “the new journalism,” Dugger developed and taught his editors the stylistic and conceptual basis of authentic, fair, but remorselessly interpretative journalism. It is time the story be told. ICANNOT speak for the other Observer editors, of course \(though the evidence of their gradual mastery of the new form on the Observer’ is easily through an event that occurred to me in 1958. The very first news assignment I had on the Observer concerned a meeting in Austin of the highly publicized and eventually productive “Hale-Aikin Committee” to revamp the public schools of Texas. The heralded “Committee of Twenty-Four” was laced with men who possessed the political clout to get their own recommendations enacted into law. But I discovered, from the otherwise empty press section, that the Hale-Aikin Committee was dominated by oil lobbyists whose chief intention, it became abundantly evident, was to argue with educators on the committee who wanted a wholesale revamping of the schools one that would cost real money and put the ramshackle state school system on a genuinely professional basis. This cleavage on the committee, transcendently clear though it was, had gone unreported in the state press. I took down pages of revealing quotes and strode happily back to the Observer office. As I walked in, I summarized the meaning of the story for Dugger and then sat down to write it. I wrote like a journalist and though I was in my twenties, I wrote like an old journalist. I based the story on the quotes, until, paragraph by paragraph, the pieces of the mosaic were slowly pushed into place. It was a long story and when it was finished, I was pleased. Dugger, however, was not. A frown appeared as he read the lead and deepened as he moved laboriously through the succeeding sentences. Finally, he looked up and said quietly, “Larry, this is not what you told me The Oilmen vs. The Teachers it doesn’t come through. It is not here.” Defensively, I said, “Well, there are rules, Ronnie.” Hurriedly I found a key quote in the ninth paragraph and another one in the fifteenth. “The inference is pretty clear, don’t you think?” I asked. “What more can I do?” I asserted. “No oilmen actually said that he was outflanking the teachers. No one was carrying a placard, you know.” Dugger leaned forward earnestly and for the first time I heard the new philosophy of what is now widely acknowledged as the new journalism. “What you do,” said Dugger, “is write a story that explains a kind of dope story. In the lead you just explain what is going on. Include whatever background on the oil connections of these men that you need to make yourself comprehensible to the reader. Don’t worry about attributing anything to anybody. That comes later in the story. Just tell the reader what really is going on and tell him right away. The rest of the story provides the structure of support you need. You’ve got the evidence, God knows. Just explain the real meaning right off the bat. Visualize that you’re writing an interpretative essay, with evidence.” This was a strange new world, indeed. I struggled. Dugger edited. I rewrote. Dugger re-edited. After two hours, we were done and adjourned to Scholz beergarten for a celebratory beer. The right-hand side of the front page of the next Observer carried the story, with Dugger’s succinct headline: “Oilmen vs. Teachers.” The story made quite a few waves, as public demand for better schools was a genuine political reality in Texas and one in which a number of metropolitan editors participated fully. The Hale-Aikin committee began to function before a growing press gallery and, eventually though the teachers did not win all their battles by any means the new structure of state aid to the public schools was fundamentally sound, lasting, and significant. The story was not mine, however; it was Dugger’s. In some despair, I learned that it took months of hard work to learn how to write an interpretative essay that was both penetrating and fair, that both summarized clearly the inherent meaning of political events and contained adequate evidence to support the underlying interpretation. By the time I became reasonably competent, I was emotionally and physically drained by the 70-hour weeks, and by the constant life in the swamp of corruption that inundated political Austin. Like Brammer before me and Morris and Sherrill after, I quit when I had learned to write. Dugger had to find someone else to teach. IT IS NOT my intention to diminish the achievement of that bizarre group of fellows called the “Texas Observer boys” or, as would follow later, the “Texas Observer girls.” But I think all these writers would attest, in their own private ways, to the impact of Dugger’s ethical tenacity on our own little provincial literary world. Dugger inherited a cultural environment in which Speaker Sam Rayburn was teaching Lyndon Johnson that, in Mr. Rayburn’s famous words, “you have to go along to get along.” Dugger decided that too many people had been “going along” for too many generations. it was not the corruption of individual politicians that worried him he did not celebrate when the land commissioner of Texas, Bascomb Giles, went to jail. Rather, he worried, and still worries, I gather, about the erosion of the culture itself, of the very fabric of shared values that alone can sustain a democratic society. The electoral needs of embattled Southern liberals received his due respect, but not when those needs intruded upon more central needs of black Americans. Yet, even on this most seminal issue one on which the Observer for years and years stood absolutely along among Southern journals Dugger’s specific posture was but a part of a larger purpose: to seek out the essence of political democracy, and locate the sources and modes of its corruption. In historical terms, his ethics are traceable to John Stuart Mill, his political vision to Jefferson, and his economics to the literature of European and American social democrats. But the environment he created in the cavernous, disorderly office on 24th Street in Austin was his own. There, near his fragile and beloved university, he became a pariah in his homeland, cussed and ostracized by the Tories, cussed and courted by Lyndon Johnson,’ cussed and befriended by Ralph Yarborough and the liberals. I have known him most of my adult life and I am not the one to pass detached historical judgment on his journal or literary judgment on its writers, all of whom I have known for the better part of 20 years. They would be the first to concede that the sheer physical demands of getting out the paper left no time for polishing prose. The Observer has intermittently been strident, righteous, and badly written. It has also been wrong. It has thank God never developed what December 27, 1974 7