With this issue, the Reno News & Review is concluding our first year back in print, following our pandemic-related closure.
The last 11 months, since our comeback issue started hitting streets over Memorial Day weekend last year, have been one of the most rewarding times in my career. Almost every day, someone tells me—be it in person, over the phone, or via email—how happy they are that the RN&R has made a comeback.
On the flip side, the last 11 months have also been among the most challenging and frustrating times in my career, for two different reasons.
The first frustration involves finding good, reliable contributing writers. Make no mistake: Editor Frank X. Mullen and I have assembled an incredibly talented group of writers, both newcomers to the RN&R and scribes whose work has appeared in our pages for years. I am appreciative and grateful to all of them for helping the RN&R become, once again, one of the best publications in the state of Nevada—and beyond.
However, we are struggling to find writers to contribute news stories and arts features. For example, there were supposed to be two other pieces included in this May edition—one news piece, and one events roundup—by two new writers. They said they’d do these paid assignments, agreed to a deadline … and then simply didn’t so anything.
If you think you have what it takes to report and write for the RN&R, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second frustration involves advertising. When we first announced our relaunch, I was moved, almost to tears, by local organizations and businesses who bought ads and signed contracts, both because they believed in what we were doing and because they knew our reach would help their causes and businesses. To the advertisers who have been and continue to be in our pages, I thank you.
Of course, we also received a lot of polite no-thank-yous from both former advertisers and potential new advertisers. We were told that budgets for the year had been set, or that money was tight, or that they wanted to see how the RN&R’s comeback went before committing to anything. All of these answers were reasonable and understandable; I figured that as the months passed, advertising would slowly but steadily increase.
Well … that has not happened.
We’re printing and distributing 25,000 copies per month—making us one of the largest-circulation publications in Northern Nevada, if not THE largest. We have a fantastic digital presence, with both our weekly newsletter and RenoNR.com getting large amounts of high-quality traffic. We’ve consistently added coverage, and the quality of our reporting and writing, largely thanks to Nevada Newspaper Hall of Famer Frank X. Mullen, is top-notch. Since my company took over the paper at the start of 2021, we’ve continuously invested in the RN&R to make it better, this month adding a new beer column, and “stitch and trim” (staples and evened-out edges) to our print edition. Our advertising rates remain affordable and reasonable—and most businesses and organizations who advertise would bring in far more revenue than they’d spend on their ads.
Yet advertising has, more or less, been flat over the last eight months. We’re continuing to get a lot of polite no-thank-yous, and are being told budgets for the year have been set, or that money is tight—if we get a response to our queries at all.
In one sense, all of this is fine. After all, no business owner should feel obligated to advertise anywhere at all (even if that advertising would almost surely improve their customer count).
Direct reader support has, and continues to be, a huge help—we could not have made our comeback without it, and I thank all of you, from the very bottom of my heart, who have given the RN&R financial support. Additionally, we’re making headway, albeit slowly, in our efforts to explore converting the RN&R into a nonprofit news organization.
But here’s the truth: As things stand now, we need advertising support to pay our bills. It costs a lot of money to produce and distribute our content—and make it available to anyone and everyone for free, both in print and online. And if we don’t get enough advertising support from the community to pay our bills, the RN&R will die.
I’m determined not to let that happen. But if the community doesn’t give the RN&R enough support, my level of determination won’t matter.