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. View an interactive story map here.
A view into the weird, sad, and sometimes funny world of rural Texas.
Once again, we’ve completed another excruciatingly slow journey from one December to the next, exhausted and unrewarded for our trouble. Let’s take stock of...Read More
Unauthorized emission incidents resulted in 135 million pounds of illegal air pollution, according to a new report by Environment Texas.
The oil and gas industry in Texas is largely responsible for doubling the amount of illegal air pollution in the state last year, according to a report released...Read More
From 2015 to 2019, an average of four birds per year came to Lake Buchanan—less than half of the 10.4 average for the five years before that. Could the noise from hunters be to blame?
Tim Mohan is intimately familiar with Lake Buchanan, the northernmost of the six Highland Lakes that squiggle through the Hill Country toward Austin. The outdoo...Read More
Carole Ward, a former nurse practitioner, ran the only health clinic in a small town in the Panhandle until she retired in 2017.
This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Carole Ward, a 66-year-old nurse p...Read More
The humble bivalves may not look like much, but they act as crucial natural filters across the state's waterways—and they're severely threatened by climate change.
Where the Sabine River becomes shin-deep about 20 minutes north of Tyler, three biologists dismount midstream from a narrow metal boat. Lance Williams, a profes...Read More
Chillicothe Hospital closed its doors on July 22. Its closure reverberated through the community in both expected and surprising ways.
This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Inside a tiny frontier hospital at t...Read More
A 200-page report produced by the Sixth Amendment Center exhaustively shows how the long arm of the law gives poor people in Amarillo the short end of the stick.
An incendiary new report on the constitutional right to counsel, produced by a nonpartisan watchdog group and obtained by the Observer, uncovers a deeply troubl...Read More