Naked City

Michael King leaves The Texas Observer after five years under emotional, and acrimonious, circumstances.

More Turmoil at T.O.

It wouldn't be The Texas Observer without intrigue. But the acrimonious departure of editor Michael King from the biweekly politics magazine has set a new standard.

King's decision to quit the 46-year-old publication came after weeks of wrangling with the publication's board, which supervises the operations of the nonprofit organization that publishes the magazine. The issues included the board's decision to eliminate an editorial position held by King's wife, Mimi Bardagjy, who, like King, had worked at the publication for five years. The two sides also disagreed over the board's hiring of Angela Ards as a replacement for Louis Dubose, a former editor of the Observer, who is now Politics editor of The Austin Chronicle. The fighting prompted a former Observer staffer to pen a letter attacking the board that was later posted on Jim Romenesko's MediaNews Web site (www.poynter.org/medianews/). That letter, coupled with King's emotional departure, has hurt people on both sides of the dispute, and hard feelings are likely to linger.

King quit on Sept. 10. The magazine is now being edited by ace reporter and Observer associate editor Nate Blakeslee, who was recently voted Best Journalist in Austin in the 2000 Chronicle "Best of Austin" Readers Poll. While the magazine is going through personnel spasms, it is in "the best financial shape in years. That's all okay," said a board member who asked not to be named.

For his part, King said the board "made a series of decisions with which I could not agree. And they said if I couldn't accept them to move on. So I am moving on." King said he plans to work as a freelance writer while he pursues other jobs.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Observer, Michael King, Mimi Bardagjy, Angela Ards, Lou Dubose, Nate Blakeslee

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