It’s been one hell of a 2022 for the Reno News & Review.
Heading into 2022, the publication was in a very different situation—in almost every way. Its owners were unsure of the paper’s future, as it limped along online. Frank X. Mullen, Johnathan L. Wright and a small handful of freelancers were doing great work, but the publication was hemorrhaging money.
When my company took control of the RN&R on Jan. 31, 2022, we knew we had a busy, complicated road ahead. Beyond Frank and Johnathan, virtually everything else about the newspaper needed to be rebuilt. Because the RN&R and its former sister papers used the same base website and URL, we had to start over with a new address, RenoNR.com. We had to build an entirely new website from scratch, and then figure out how to peel off nearly 22 years of archives from the former site, and get it successfully integrated into the new one.
We also had to rebuild our writers’ base, especially when Johnathan left his part-time RN&R gig for a full-time job writing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I started reaching out to many former RN&R scribes and asked them to come back; thankfully, a number of them did, including Bob Grimm, Jessica Santina, Kris Vagner, Todd South, Matt Bieker and our former editor, Brad Bynum. (Note to Todd and Brad: We hope you come back soon!) We’ve also been fortunate to add a number of talented newcomers as we’ve made our comeback.
Then we had to address the question of whether we’d ever return to print. It was an unbelievably difficult decision for us, because, well, printing newspapers these days is unbelievably difficult. The last printer in our region closed earlier this year, and as a result, the other local papers are printed in Chico or Tracy, Calif., and shipped over the mountains—at a time when newsprint and transportation costs are at all-time highs.
Once we did make the decision to return to print on a monthly basis, we had to take a 26-month-old distribution list and do a two-month audit to see what distribution spots we had left, and what racks, news boxes, etc. remained. We knew ordering new racks was out of the question for now, because of the sky-high costs of steel and transportation, so we had to make due with what we had.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, we had to stop losing thousands of dollars each month. We made a push to get as many of our old advertisers back, and add as many new ones as possible. We’ve done OK—not as well as I’d like, but OK. (If you’re a former advertiser who is not back in our pages yet … what in the heck are you waiting for?)
Now, as 2022 heads toward a conclusion, and we start looking at 2023, the Reno News & Review is in a decent place. It’s almost hard for me to believe how far we’ve come since Jan. 31.
If you’re reading this in print, you’re holding our seventh issue back in print as a monthly, 25,000 copies of which are available at 700 locations across Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Minden, Gardnerville, Truckee and Tahoe. If you’re reading this online, you’re looking at our fantastic all-new website, where our archives going back to 2000 are available, for free, to all. (We’re still cleaning some things up with the website, but it’s all there.) We’re producing nearly as much content as we were before the pandemic arrived, and, much to my relief, we’re breaking even on the financial side, or close to it, thanks to our advertisers and a whole lot of you generous readers.
If all goes according to plan, 2023 will be almost as important to the RN&R as was 2022. As we continue to produce hard-hitting, compelling local journalism, we will start a behind-the-scenes effort to make sure what happened to the RN&R in 2020 never happens again. Our goal is to eventually make the RN&R a nonprofit, with a board of directors tasked with raising enough money for us to add staff, boost our budget and make sure our future is completely sustainable.
Thanks to you, dear readers, for sticking with us—and for helping us make a comeback unparalleled by any other newspaper in the United States.