Staff of progressive publication the Texas Observer launches GoFundMe to avert closure

In just a day, the campaign has raised almost $170,000 of its $200,000 goal.

click to enlarge Seventeen staffers at the Texas Observer stand to lose their jobs if the publication closes. - Courtesy Photo / James Canup
Courtesy Photo / James Canup
Seventeen staffers at the Texas Observer stand to lose their jobs if the publication closes.
A GoFundMe campaign to save the Texas Observer, a decades-old progressive publication scheduled for closure by its board, has raised nearly $170,000 in a single day.

James Canup, the Observer's former managing director, shared the fundraiser Monday, saying he hoped to provide a "lifeline" to staff and journalists from the publication, which was founded in 1954. The campaign has a goal of $200,000.

In the GoFundMe campaign, Canup said he resigned in protest when the Observer's board informed staff in a Zoom meeting that would be laid off by Friday of this week. The publication has a staff of 17, including 13 journalists, according to a Texas Tribune report.

"I hope that the board of directors of the Observer’s parent nonprofit, the Texas Democracy Foundation, will, upon seeing the massive and generous public response to this appeal, reverse its decisions to lay off staff and cease publication," he wrote. "If that happens, all of the funds raised will be transferred to the Texas Democracy Foundation and will be restricted for spending exclusively on supporting staff – namely, payroll and benefits for current employees."

He continued: "If the foundation does not revisit its decision to lay off staff and cease publication, the plan is for the funds to be distributed individually and equally to all staff who are to be laid off. It seems to me that it will be hard for the foundation to shut it down and lay people off in light of this overwhelming surge of public support for the Texas Observer and its staff."

Individuals on the Texas Observer's board told the Texas Tribune that the publication, which doesn't accept advertising, is financially strapped and has been unable to expand its readership.

Observer board members were unavailable on Tuesday morning for immediate comment on the fundraiser.

Disclosure: The San Antonio Current has periodically run articles reported by the Texas Observer.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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