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Vol. 70, No. 1 January 20, 1978 The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1978 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin. Forum-Advocate. EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDITOR AT LARGE Jim Hightower Lawrence Walsh Linda Rocawich Ronnie Dugger ASSISTANT EDITORS: Colin Hunter, Teresa Acosta, Vicki Vaughan PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Lee, Susan Reid STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margaret Watson, Bob Sinderrnann, Kathy Tally, Cathy Stevens, Debbie Wormser, Margot Beutler, Leah Miller, Connie Larson, David Guarino, Beth Epstein CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Don Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Russell, Paul Sweeney, Marshall Breger, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Joe Frantz, Ray Reece, Laura Eisenhour, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Luther Sperberg, Roy Hamric, Thomas D. Bleich, Mark Stinson, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger, Lois Rankin, Maury Maverick Jr., Bruce Cory, John Henry Faulk, Chandler Davidson, Molly Ivins, Ralph Yarborough, Laura Richardson, Eric Hartman, Tim Mahoney BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Alice Embree, Ricky Cruz A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week inter: val between issues twice a year, in January and July: 25 issues per year Second-claSs postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $30. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, GI Rock, N.J. 07452. 7c 4al t P. Editorial and Business Offices: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Publisher’s report Part I San Antonio, Austin This is an important, but a difficult and possibly a dangerous moment in the history of the Observer, a moment that can precede either the consolidation of the financial base for an expanded and more influential journal or a period of very sharp austerity. What I have to say in this first of two publisher’s reports to the readers is quite serious, and I ask for your attention. Under editor Jim Hightower, 1977 was a year of larger issues and new editorial departures. Hightower has set a firm course and is taking aim at the engorged and impersonal corporations while celebrating and seeking ways to enhance ordinary people’s economic activities. The paper under Hightower and his able and dedicated managing editor, Lawrence Walsh, has also become more pointedly political in coverage than in recent years. I believe the Hightower-Walsh Observer is on the right course editorially, and I share people’s enthusiasm about it. If half a dozen periodicals with national readerships would pay the same kind of attention to the governing corporations that the Observer does, we would have a different and a much better country. The Observer is moving and shaking the state government on issues that count. Paul Sweeney’s early articles on the legislative effort to increase consumer loan interest rates generated enough heat and light to help defeat the industry’s noxious bills. Don Gardner’s excellent report on the strip-mining plans of the Texas Municipal Power Association in Grimes County not only bolstered the efforts of local farmers who opposed the TMPA but also, having been read by NBC-TV news chief Reuven Frank, led to a nationally broadcast documentary on their fight. Tim Mahoney’s special investigative report on bankholding companies is as important a piece of economic journalism as has been done in Texas in the 1970s, and it has caused ripples that continue to spread, helping prompt a U.S. Justice Department investigation of bank-deposit concentration in Texas and increasing the likelihood of a John Hill investigation of holding company practices. Cary Cardwell’s revelation of the Texas Department of Corrections’ insufficient medical care for a Huntsville inmate finally produced the treatment he badly needed. In addition, Observer stories in 1977 have been picked up or followed up by a wide range of national media, from The Washington Post to Hughes Rudd’s CBS-TV “Morning News.” The Texas press, too, on several occasions in the past year has cited Observer work. Another good sign is that many of the state’s politicians are alternately praising and damning the magazine, which is a measure of its sharpness and influence. Because of all this and of the heads-up promotional work of. the business staff, 1977 saw very good progress in readership. Paid subscription mail circulation has increased by 1,000 over a ‘ year ago. There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of students who subscribe through their professors in college classrooms, from 1,959 in 1976 to 2,918 in 1977, a jump of 49 percent. Between the issues of Dec. 10, 1976, and Dec. 2, 1977, paid circulation climbed from 10,264 to 12,237a 20 percent increase in paying readers in a year’s time. The Observer has always had a loyal band of subscribers who renew annually, and in 1976 we had a renewal rate of 70.3 percent, a very good figure in relation to those of other periodicals. ,But even that impressive statistic has improved by a couple of percentage points over the last 12 months.