'Texas Observer' Was the Original Alt Paper

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 16, 2010

Dear Editor,
    In his "A Very Brief History of the Alternative Press, Continued," in the Aug. 13 "Page Two" column, Louis Black gives too much credit to The Village Voice (founded in 1955) as being the "acknowledged source and inspiration for all these [alternative press] papers," at the expense of The Texas Observer, founded in 1954 in your own backyard as an alternative to the truly wretched daily newspapers of the day and the real pioneer among alternative papers. The indefatigable founding editor, Ronnie Dugger, with the financial support of Frankie Randolph (a liberal Democrat and heir to a timber fortune), started the Observer as a weekly tabloid newspaper that covered Austin, the Capitol, and the state – and Dugger did groundbreaking reporting not only on state government but also on race and economic issues across the state. Within a few years, the Observer throttled back to a fortnightly publication schedule, but Dugger and successors, including Willie Morris, Molly Ivins, Kaye Northcott, and Jim Hightower, to name just a few, have been covering stories the mainstream press wouldn't touch for 56 years now (and nearly going out of business many of those years). And I think the founders of The Village Voice, if not its current ownership, acknowledged that The Texas Observer was an inspiration for their enterprise.
Best regards,
Jim Cullen
Former associate editor of The Texas Observer
   Louis Black responds: It was a dumb error and truly an oversight on my part to leave out The Texas Observer.
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