Rural Reporting Project

Texas has the largest rural population of any state — 3.8 million people — yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas.


Austin’s on the Wrong Side of the 100th Meridian

by | Wed, May 16, 2018 at 9:00 CST
The invisible line that divides the arid western part of the country from the wetter eastern half is on the move, and that has important implications for the Texas capital.
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The Dark Horse of the Lubbock Farm Meeting Rides

An agriculture department meeting meant to elicit input from area produce growers was derailed by a government attorney with Nazis, sexism and sterilization on the brain.

A Texas Department of Agriculture meeting designed to gather input from Panhandle fruit and vegetable growers affected by new food safety regulations devolved i...Read More

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Access Denied

How lawmakers, the Texas Supreme Court and Ken Paxton closed the door on open government.

How lawmakers, the Texas Supreme Court and Ken Paxton closed the door on open government. – by Christopher Collins @collins_reports April 2, 2018 By most ...Read More


Is the Texas Open Meetings Act the Next Target for Transparency-Killing Legislation?

A Fort Bend County commissioner wants state lawmakers to consider exemptions to the open government law during emergencies, part of a larger trend of officials slackening important regulations in the name of public safety.

As Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains battered Fort Bend County in late August, flooding 4,000 homes in a largely unincorporated area near Katy, County Commi...Read More