Texas Observer Digital Archive Update Grant – November 2015

In November 2015, the Headliners Foundation awarded a $3,000 grant from the Headliner’s Foundation Special Project Fund to the Texas Democracy Foundation DBA the Texas Observer for digitizing each print edition of the publication from 2011-2015 and for the acquisition of a network attached storage (NAS) system. NAS is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local-area network nodes with file-based shared storage through a standard ethernet connection.

This archived digital product can be used as a research and educational tool for students (both formal and informal) of journalism and history. Maintaining a comprehensive and accessible archive is an asset to journalists, journalism students, and anyone interested in Texas’ history and media industry.

In 2014, the Texas Observer completed the first phase of a project to digitize each print edition of the publication from its launch in 1954 through 2010. Issues are in PDF format, and are searchable by keyword, topic, author name, and by date. Since the archive was launched in August 2014, it has had more than 260,000 users from across Texas, the U.S., and internationally. It can be accessed in its entirety for free at archives.texasobserver.org.

In addition, the Texas Observer has established a fellow to assist with designing and implementing a plan and protocol for the publication to follow to continue adding searchable PDF content to the digital archive; to build its profile and accessibility as a historical resource and research tool for academics and journalists; and to work with the Briscoe Center on a long-term plan to preserve the Observer’s historically-valuable digital assets beyond versions of the print edition (this includes but is not limited to magazine drafts, research material, photos, business records and correspondence—which, in recent years, have existed largely only in digital rather than print format). An important component of preserving digital files and transferring them to the Observer’s archive at the Briscoe Center will be putting a NAS system in place, i.e., a digital asset management system that will help centralize storage of important files and facilitate their transfer.

The Texas Observer is the only non-profit print and digital publication in Texas dedicated to public-interest journalism that emphasizes long-form and investigative work on the issues that shape this state and life in it.