Interview with the editor

R.V. Scheide

Back in the early days of the Reno News & Review, if strains of an electric guitar leaked upstairs, you knew that the paper’s first editor, R.V. Scheide, was in the house. Scheide introduced Reno to a new, and, some say, somewhat bizarre way to look at journalism. With hair bleached white, black leather jacket and BMW motorcycle, he cut a pretty interesting figure when he went out to the cow counties to interview rural folks. But his journalism was solid, and his stories always rang with truth. In some ways, his legacy lives on at the RN&R.

Are you surprised at the success the alternative media has had in Reno?

No, I’m not surprised that the Reno News & Review has been able to establish itself in Reno. I think that wanting to get other points of view is kind of an American tradition, particularly with newspapers. Reno is just as American as any other city, so it’s not too surprising at all.

What story do you remember most from your time as editor here?

I guess going to the execution of Richard Moran [March 31, 1996]. I don’t know if it was the best thing I wrote, but it was definitely an experience I never had anywhere else.

Do you think the mainstream media is failing the American public?

I think that, nationally, it’s failing the public by just asking the easy questions. If you look at the Bush administration’s record of lying—known lying, just outrageous lying—nobody ever calls them on any of it. That’s nationally. On the local level, I think the problem has to do with the fact that most daily newspapers, like the Gazette, are so hooked into the local economy and the growth models that most cities are still practicing. They end up serving the Chamber of Commerce’s interests instead of their readers'.

What makes for good journalism?

Conflict.

What do you mean by that?

Good journalism always speaks truth to power. You talk about Hunter S. Thompson, who just passed away—his epitaph is all about not taking shit from power and just challenging the status quo.

How do you go about doing that?

Part of it with alternatives is, well, it gets to be like people call us politically correct—or they call liberals politically correct—because liberalism originally was challenging the status quo. I think sometimes we get a little bit confused in the alternative world because we’ve all been doing it for so long that we sort of forget [to challenge the status quo]. [You make good journalism] by being contrarian and being always suspicious.

Do you still like to run around naked?

Sure.

What else should we talk about?

I remember my time in Reno very fondly. I enjoyed working there. I liked the city and its combination of gambling and outdoor life. I should come back to visit more often.

What should you have done differently?

It might have been a shrewder move to stay in Reno. … But I’m really happy being over in Sonoma County now. In a lot of ways, Sonoma is more like up there than Sacramento. Boy, I hate being interviewed, man. I know one thing I would have changed. I should have gambled much, much more.

With the paper or at the casinos?

Both.