The staff of the Texas Observer

We Did It, Y’all! Texas Observer Will Remain Open!

"Thanks to the extraordinary success of the staff’s fundraising this week," the publication's board of directors voted to rescind layoffs and shutdown.


Update March 31, 2023: On Friday, the board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, the Texas Observer’s parent nonprofit, saw six resignations while voting to add three new members, according to Interim Board President Lize Burr. The board makeup, Burr said, will now consist of: Burr, Peter Ravella, Carlton Carl, Carrie James, Lizette Resendez, Terri Burke, Kathleen McElroy, and Skye Perryman.

In response to the news, senior Texas Observer staff sent the following letter:

To the Texas Democracy Foundation board,

We thank you for your decision to reverse course on layoffs this week and for your heartfelt statement to the Texas Observer community. We thank board members past and present for their service. We know you’ve given generously—time or money, sweat or tears—to this place that could have died so many times over the last 70 years.

We stand ready to work hand-in-hand with the board to build the long-term future the Observer deserves. In our view, this week’s events have shown that we have even more support out there in the world than we knew, that all of our work has been worth it and will continue to be. We know you share our belief that Texas needs an Observer. Y’all, let’s make it happen.

Senior Staff of the Texas Observer

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The board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, the nonprofit parent organization of the Texas Observer, on Wednesday voted unanimously to rescind its earlier plan to lay off the 68-year-old magazine’s entire staff and cease publication.

“This is wonderful news,” said Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Arana. “The Observer is indispensable to Texas and to democracy.”

The board issued a statement saying they have secured short-term pledges to bridge an immediate budget shortfall, “thanks to the extraordinary success of the staff’s fundraising this week.” A GoFundMe effort begun on Monday had raised more than $275,000 on Wednesday from more than 3,000 supporters. 

The board had formally announced the layoffs and shutdown to the staff on Monday, at a contentious meeting at which they sought to answer no questions. However, most staffers had found out about the decision the previous evening, via a story in another publication. 

The statement, addressed to the “Texas Observer Community” included an apology to the staff “for the abruptness of the layoff vote” and said the board “deeply regret[s]” the way the staff found out. The board also apologized to major donors Lynne Dobson and Greg Wooldridge of the Tejemos Foundation and to “our community of contributors, readers and supporters.” The foundation had made a major donation to the Observer last year, but the board said the nature of that gift was misunderstood by the Observer organization. 

The change of plan came in the wake of an outpouring of public support for the Observer. In addition to the GoFundMe effort, readers, former staffers and former board members, and prominent journalists from around the country reached out to Observer journalists and allies to express their solidarity with the campaign to keep the magazine afloat. 

“I just got chills,” said Gayle Reaves, the Observer’s editor-at-large, when news reached staffers. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our incredible supporters and my colleagues and the board members who helped us.”