Capital ideas

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I spent a big chunk of last week in the belly of the beast, the center of the labyrinth, the gaping maw of the golden-haired blowhard, the bubbling water of the porcelain bowl—that’s right, Washington D.C.

I was there for the annual conference of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, of which this paper is a proud member. Overall, it was a great little trip—despite some travel difficulties that I won’t bore you with. (A few years ago, I took a solemn vow to never tell “I had the worst time at the airport” stories, which are right up there with “I almost got into a car accident” stories in the category of stories that everyone likes to tell, but that no one wants to listen to. But let me give a quick nod of “fuck you” to United Airlines. You might think a company that’s trying to repair its damaged public image would try to go above and beyond with its customer service—but you’d be wrong.)

Some highlights from the conference: I learned a lot about some of the resources available to help journalists make effective public records requests. I got to visit the Haitian embassy, and see an amazing collection of works by Haitian artists. I got to hear a candid, inspiring speech from Rep. John Yarmuth. He’s the former publisher of an alt-weekly newspaper a lot like this one, the Louisville Eccentric Observer. I went to a reception in one of the U.S. Senate office buildings and walked right past the offices of a number of senators, including our own Catherine Cortez Masto. It was after hours, and none of the offices seemed occupied—except John McCain’s.

And best of all, I got to spend time with hard-working colleagues from papers all around the country. It’s great to see how alt papers are doing more and more with very limited resources, but very dedicated staffs. Special shout-out to the crew of the Baltimore City Paper, who continue to write great boots-on-the-ground stories—even though their paper is going to fold before the end of the year. If you pass through Maryland this fall, be sure to pick up a copy. And if you have the resources, write ’em a check.