Austin, Texas: living through a libel suit

Ivins, Molly
May 1975
Columbia Journalism Review;May/Jun1975, Vol. 14 Issue 1, p41
The article expresses views on the libel suit filed against the author and The Texas Observer newspaper in June 1974. The Observer is a sort of regional New Republic. It deals with Texas politics, Texas social problems and Texas characters. Its alumni include Ronnie Dugger, Willie Morris, Robert Sherrill and Bill Brammer, among others. The paper is run as a sort of journalists' cooperative. Despite the paper's usually critical financial bind, it continues to win prizes, break stories, and turn out some pretty good journalism. The plaintiffs, Brother Lester Roloff and Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises Inc., are also suing four other publications and NBC. With help from two of the Observer's oldest friends, Bernard Rapoport of Waco and J. R. Parten of Madisonville, the paper started a legal-defense fund. The Observer no more has tens of thousands than it has $5 million: before the suit ever gets to court, it could easily kill The Texas Observer. The suit has invaded the journalists' lives in many ways. It is eating up their time and the money they do not have. It has forced them to consider taking out personal loans and leaving the Observer for more remunerative employment in order to pay them off.


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