We’ve talked a lot about the steps we’ve been taking to make sure the Reno News & Review has a strong, sustainable future.
Today, I’d like to explain what we’ve been doing to preserve the RN&R’s past.
A little history: The publication that would become the RN&R was founded in 1993 as the Nevada Weekly. In 1995, the paper was acquired by Chico Community Publishing, which published News & Review newspapers in Chico and Sacramento. With that, the RN&R was born.
In 2000, the RN&R joined the internet age—a little later than most other publications—and started publishing content each week online, as well as in print. (Fun fact: I was the RN&R editor then.) That continued until March 2020, when, well, you know what happened.
The former owners, to streamline things and save money, hosted all three N&R papers on the same website, using the same web address. They did the same when they started posting the print editions online via Issuu in 2011: Everything the three papers published was uploaded to the same Issuu page and account.
All of that streamlining made a lot of sense … until it came time for the RN&R to leave the Chico Community Publishing umbrella earlier this year.
Since January, we’ve been working hard to untangle the RN&R from its former sister newspapers. The first step was to give the RN&R a brand-new web address, RenoNR.com, and a brand-new website. The folks at Newspack (a joint project of WordPress.com and the Google News Initiative)—who also host our sister publication, the Coachella Valley Independent—did an amazing job of quickly getting the new RN&R site up and running, and migrating over all of the RN&R content from late March 2020 on, when the former owners switched over to a WordPress site.
That, however, was just the start of the work. We then had to get all of the RN&R content from 2000 through March 2020 off the former owners’ servers, and onto ours. As of this writing, we’re almost done with that process … but we’re not there yet.
Tech folks know that migrating content—especially newspaper content, with thousands upon thousands of articles, photos, links and embeds—from one system and website to another system and website can be difficult, and that’s proven to be the case here. The first hiccup was that the data we received from the former owner was incomplete, or didn’t fully migrate. So we had to get another data file.
Then Newspack had to convert all of that data from the former owners’ system (which was not WordPress-based) to our current system. They did this by converting everything and posting it on what’s called a staging site. I reviewed the site, and everything looked mostly fine (migrations like this are never perfect), so I gave Newspack the OK in mid-July for all of that content to finally be added to RenoNR.com.
However … for some reason, none of the bylines came over from the staging site to the active one. And all of the category designations are different. And our search function has yet to index all the 20,000 or so articles. As a result, all of that 2000-March 2020 content is there, but nobody can really access it.
As of this writing, I am waiting on Newspack to resolve the byline issue, and have the search index all of those articles. Once that’s done, I’ll go in and fix all the categories, and we should be mostly set (even though some things here and there may look a bit clunky).
We should be mostly set, that is, except for the date issue with all of the content from 2000-2005. You see, the former owners upgraded or switched systems back in 2005, and all of the 2000-2005 stuff migrated over without a publication date, meaning all of those stories show as having been published in 2005. Therefore, once all the byline, category and search issues are resolved, we will, as time is available, go in and manually fix all those publication dates, using the bound volumes of print issues as our guide.
This, folks, is why newspaper publishers tend to drink.
And as for the Issuu page with all of the electronically uploaded print editions from 2011 on: In order to create an archive of just RN&R issues, we had to manually download all of the RN&R stuff from the former owners’ page, and then re-upload those files on our new page. Thanks to an amazing amount of work by my husband, Garrett, that is mostly done; see for yourselves at issuu.com/renonr.
Some people may wonder why we’re going through all this time, effort and expense to make sure the RN&R archives are accessible and in one place. The reason is this: Preserving the RN&R’s past is almost as important as assuring the RN&R has a strong and sustainable future. All of those articles and photos document 22 years of Northern Nevada’s history, and will be an invaluable resource—made available for free to everyone.
One more thing … I’d be remiss if I didn’t tout an award the RN&R just won: Frank X. Mullen’s 2021 stories on the Stewart Indian School’s unmarked graves won second place in the investigative reporting category of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual awards.
The judge wrote: “This contest category had some outstanding reporting that was the result of a lot of research and reporting, but none was as deeply researched as this important piece about the Stewart Indian School. The story resonated with me because my state had a reform school for boys where bodies were found in unmarked graves. This story is heartbreaking—and so important to not only your community but also to every American. Pulling together a series based on so much research yet written so clearly and succinctly is tough. Great work.”
This award is a national award, among all alternative publications, of all sizes. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.
Congrats to Frank, who yet again has proven why he’s a Nevada Newspaper Hall of Famer.