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Texas has the largest rural population of any state: 3.8 million people.
Many problems are the same as those in the cities: stagnant wages, income inequality, health-care woes, racial conflicts. But rural Texas faces a set of issues all its own, including stagnant or declining populations, economic dislocations from globalization and trade, a severe shortage of primary care physicians, land fragmentation, water scarcity and myriad agricultural challenges that barely register with city-dwellers.
The Texas Observer is one of the only publications — not just in the state of Texas, but in the entire nation — with a staff writer dedicated to covering rural populations. As newspapers shutter their doors and those that remain purge staff, fewer and fewer can afford to send reporters to these regions; fewer still call rural areas home. As a result, rural Texans don’t just suffer from a lack of relevant news; they also go largely unheard and misunderstood.
That’s why we started the Rural Reporting Project. Abilene-based reporter Christopher Collins has crisscrossed Texas to find the stories, from examining the economic benefits of immigration in the Panhandle town of Dalhart to covering rural hospital closures in East Texas.
Getting a nuanced understanding of rural communities is critical to bridging divides and promoting community understanding. We need full portraits, not caricatures. Hear Chris talk more about his work in the video above and check out this list of stories he mentions:
Risks and challenges
Our Rural Reporting Project launched in August 2017 thanks to generous grant funding. Now, as we head into the third year, we're exploring ways to continue funding this incredibly important project. As a nonprofit media outlet, we rely on both grants and individuals to fund our work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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