When you got into the business, did you expect this to be the state of it now, the uncertainty?
I graduated from UNR in 2008, and I was among the last classes there to be a print major, and that no longer exists in journalism there. … So when I graduated in 2008, the recession was happening at that point, and I was a fellow at the Arizona Republic that summer and so the apocalypse was happening across the country. I think 3,000 [journalism] jobs were lost that summer. And so I took a job at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota because I needed to find work, and I covered the statehouse up there. And so in my time as a journalist professionally, I’ve only known crisis. I’ve never known a time when there was salad days like that. So since I got to the RGJ in 2011, and this was probably happening at the RN&R as well, it’s been a constant march of advertising decline industry-wide. The digital media future that we’ve all be striving for, I think Gannett’s primary strategy, as well as its digital footprint, is keeping print newspapers as steady as they can be in an ongoing effort to make it as efficient as possible to get out the print newspaper so we can focus our efforts internally on building a digital audience. That’s the strategy.
Do you miss reporting?
Well, I stopped being a reporter in 2013 and became the investigations editor at the RGJ. … I was a reporter for about five years. Kelly Scott talked me into becoming an editor. … I really enjoy, now, working with reporters and seeing big stories come to, you know, molding them and—once you get that big story published, that’s a really satisfying thing to see a reporter have something big go out. I worked really closely with Anjeanette [Damon] when she was investigating the jail deaths situation over at the the jail. You know, Jason Hidalgo has done amazing work with housing, and I’ve worked really closely with him over the years to develop those stories. And so there’s like a personal satisfaction in developing reporters and developing stories and thinking about the publication and how it’s going to be presented and how it’s going to be marketed. I guess you just find the creative outlet in a different way when you’re editor as opposed to reporter. It’s all working toward the same issue.
If print is coming to an end, does it matter how it comes to an end?
Well, I mean, obviously, print is in crisis, and that’s true across the entire industry. It doesn’t take a lot to see that the advertising declines are industry-wide. They’re not improving. And when that day comes, when it no longer makes sense to print the newspaper, they don’t pay me enough to know that, with what’s happening here in Reno. We are planning on having a newspaper for the foreseeable future. It is still a significant revenue driver that still funds our newsroom. The problem is, it’s doing less and less of that every year. And so, the million dollar question is, really, how do you transition to a digital future, a digital majority future? And we’re—as a company—Gannett is close to that, you know, becoming a majority digital company. … There’s a lot of uncertainty, again, with our potential merger and things like that, but as far as what we’re doing here in Reno, we are committed to doing journalism for both our print audience, our digital audience. And our main mission right now in Reno is growing that digital audience. We believe there’s a future there, and if we grow it, and if we can find a way to make it sustainable, to get people to subscribe and pay for local journalism, we think it’s a valuable thing regardless of if it’s with us, or donations to other nonprofit news organizations or whatever. We think there’s a lot of value to local journalism and that could translate to a digital future.