Since the Monthly’s birth three and a half years ago, Broyles has functioned as a buffer between staff and publisher and publisher and staff. By all accounts, he has done a good job of insulating the one from the other. This time, however, he decided to let the staff deal directly with Levy. Broyles disappeared on a vacation of unspecified length, leaving some question as to his future with the magazine. As Anne Bauer Barnstone, the managing editor, explained, “Bill had been thinking for a long time about taking a good vacation. He’s been working sixteen hours a day for four years. When the memo came out, it put him over the edge. He wanted to take some time off to think over his role on the magazine.” Publisher Levy said Broyles’ future with the magazine is “whatever he wants it to be. Ideally, the editor provides one thing to a magazinethat’s taste and judgment. It’s not necessary for the editor to be in the trenches like Broyles has been here. The strain has been showing on both him and me.” Broyles told the Observer that his absence from the magazine is nothing more than a vacation and that he intends to return to the Monthly. He said he hopes to have time to do more writing for the magazine in the future. Levy met with the staff and apologized for the memo. “The memo was just wrong on my part,” he told the Observer. “I blew up as a result of some pressures. I retracted the thing thirty minutes after I read it. I told the staff we had never cratered before. In fact, I have only gotten one call from a major advertiserSakowitz.” “I think we’ve won the editorial freedom battle,” said Paul Burka, the features editor. “I don’t think we will ever hear another word about an advertiser’s wish.” Levy concurs. “Why,” he asked, “should you give in when you start getting reasonably fat? It’s just good business to put out the very best product possible.” Both the publisher and the staff think that the “cockroach chic” memo prompted a dialogue that has been, in Levy’s words, “generally beneficial to the magazine.” At first, the editors’ reaction seemed to be, “Well, hell, if that’s the way Levy wants to play the game, we’ve got a few complaints of our own.” The editorial staff discussed the possibility of setting up a guild, but decided instead to designate an informal group to meet with Levy and “the numbers people” on questions of staff salary increases, job security and new budget priorities. “The reason all this led into bargaining about salary and the free-lance budget,” Barnstone explained, “is because money is the ultimate club that the business people can use.” The Monthly’s most serious problem is whether the publisher and the business people will provide the financial sup port necessary for a good magazinepop and slick and out to make a buck, but sound in its cultural commentary and tough when it chooses to do a serious pieceor whether it will be primarily a glossy vehicle for selling advertisements. Burka sees the magazine’s main limitations as “writing talent and the long-range budget. We’re so thinly spread in talent and time and this eats everyone up.” When it comes to magazine-writing and editing talent, Texas is like an underdeveloped country. Very few people have the skills, and so editors and writers have to get on-the-job training. The talent pool grows oh so very slowly. In the past, Levy has been known to tell Monthly editors to “find someone who can crank it out.” But, as Burka pointed out, there just aren’t that many Texans who are capable of cranking it out. That’s why so much of the material in the Monthly \(and in the Observer, written. “A Monthly editor,” said Burka, “can take a mediocre article and make it into an acceptable one, can take a good article and make it into a great one, but we can’t do a damn thing with a bad one. It’s hopeless. Eighty percent of the articles we get are things we would never use. They are articles like ‘My Interesting Grandmother.’ ” One recent business-editorial fight at the Monthly concerned the number of pages the staff should produce this fall. Advertisers are flocking to the magazine, and the business staff wants the Monthly to grow as quickly as possiblewithout expanding the staff or the free-lance budget. The business side recently informed the editors that they would be expected to produce 103 pages of editorial material for the September issue \(10 percent larger than any Monthly to November and December. “We put the brakes to that,” Barnstone said proudly. “And we also got two of our editorial assistants off the telephones and got a Texas Monthly receptionist. Budget and salary are being negotiated now, and I think we’ll get somewhere on that.” So the cockroach caper may have a happy ending for the staff. Levy concluded, “All the memo did was serve as a spark for people to say, ‘These things are wrong.’ Bill is trying to figure out how the magazine can run without his personally putting out every issue. I’m trying to figure out my role. The staffs input is not only necessary but also wanted on this end. The important thing is that they got a hearing.” K . N. Tennessee State Sen. Fred Berry withdrew his bill to name a Tennessee state gem, rock, and fossil after the bill was amended, by voice vote, to designate him the official fossil. Mother Jones magazine THE TEXAS OBSERVER “The always impious Texas Observer. . . We recommend it.” I. F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly, May 31, 1971 . . the Progressive and the Texas Observer, both of them knowledgeable, superbly written, and leavened by a wit of which conservatives seem incapable.” George Frazier, The Boston Globe, Dec, 15, 1973 “Oddly, the impact of some of its biggest stories comes on the rebound: They are picked up and commented on nationally before the state’s daily press recognizes them.” Lew Powell, Chicago Journalism Review, April, 1974 “One of the best publications in the country remains the Texas Observer.” Pete Hamill, The New York Post, Dec. 18, 1969 “The Observer is the conscience of the political community in Texas.” Andrew Kopkind, The New Republic, Nov. 20, 1965 “I think the Observer ranks with The Progressive as one of the two most useful papers in the United States.” John Kenneth Galbraith, Sept. 16, 1970 “The Observer keeps coming out with serious and thorough news of this critically important state which people inside and out can’t get elsewhere.” Nicholas von Hoffman, The Washington Post, Sept. 10, 1971 [ ] One Year $10.00 [ ] Two Years $18.00 [ ] Three Years $25.00 \(Non-Texas addresses exempt from 5% sales tax included in rates listed above Name Street City & State Zip Check encl. [ ] Bill me 600 WEST 7 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701
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