Allied powers

Vanessa Vancour is coordinator of the Nevada Media Alliance at the Reynolds School of Journalism and Center for Advanced Media Studies. She can think on her feet, a talent that sometimes gratefully puts individuals on the pages of newspapers when an interview falls through and the editor is in class on deadline. She can be reached at

You seem young for this position. What qualified you for it?

I’m trying to think what the job description even was. It was a mixture of some journalism and then building relationships and growing the Alliance to whatever that could be. I came in with a background in journalism, I got my degree in journalism from USC [University of Southern California] in broadcast and then worked in digital media. I thought that since the school was infusing the curriculum with more of the new media, or finding ways to do that that still fit within journalism, it felt like the best of both world in terms of what I love and what I had training in and where I had come from.

And what was your primary job?

When I first came here, I worked as a TV journalist for four years. And then I worked in PR-slash-social media for a year, and then I worked in digital media for three years.

You worked on TV for four years? I did not know that. Who did you work for?

The TV station doesn't even exist anymore. It was inside the Meadowood Mall, it was KREN/Univision. I came for that. It was a TV start-up, essentially with a local investor, the Pappas family, a big Greek family. It was a really cool concept because most of the VJs—we all did our own stuff—had to be bilingual. So we produced a 6 o’clock Spanish newscast and then a 10 o’clock English newscast. And we had some kind of loose partnership with KOLO to use their live shots. Sometimes we used their photogs. So I worked there for a year, then I went to Channel 4, and I worked there for three years, three-and-a-half years. And then I left that to go to RSCVA. I worked there for a year, and then I worked the Noble [Studios] for three years.

You have the job. You’re here, and you’re going to develop the Nevada Media Alliance. What else do you hope to bring to the journalism school?

My first priority is to focus on the Nevada Media Alliance. The beauty and the challenge of the Alliance is that it is so new. It celebrated its first birthday in January. For at least the first two semesters, we had these partnerships with the [Reno Gazette-Journal], KNPB and KUNR. The students would produce content pretty regularly. This semester, we took a totally different approach and worked on a class project which was focused around a topic, and there was no daily reporting. They were just building this thing for the big project for the end. Next semester, I’ll be doing a business journalism class as a spin-off of what the [Participatory Journalism] class is doing now. It will have a couple of advisers from the business side, including our new chair for media entrepreneurship, and the students, undergrads, will cover the tech community as a way to learn business and learn local government and to open their eyes to other opportunities. That’s kind of the immediate goal—i s growing the partnerships, but they should be strategic. … We have all this room to grow, but what does it mean? What kind of partnerships should we be developing, how should we form our partnerships? My other kind of long-term goal is multi-cultural, multi-lingual reporting. Right now, I think there is a lot of buzz around technology and innovation, and those words by themselves mean nothing to me, so that's kind of the hot thing right now. But I think the next thing is going to be diversity and approaching it from a cultural point of view. Whether that means different ethnicities or cultures or just forcing journalists into communities they're not as familiar with.