Last man standing

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I guess if you came to this page looking for the table of contents, you can figure out what I’ll write about this week. Bottom line: I just can’t see the necessity for a table of contents in a 36-page paper that mentions five or six of its biggest stories on the cover and has a navigation bar on the bottom of every odd-numbered page.

That’s the core of my argument anyway. There are, of course, other factors at work. Newspapers all over the country are stumbling and falling. Mainstream newspaper chains are breaking in apparent karmic payback for all the alternative newspapers they drove under over the years. People can look at the Reno Gazette-Journal and see what’s happened to daily newspapers: Experienced reporters laid off, local reporting replaced with wire copy, news holes shrunk, page size decreased, single-copy prices soaring. Companies like Gannett claim they’re emphasizing internet journalism—the future of news. There’s some logic to that, but they’ve got to survive five years or more until the future arrives.

Analogous changes have happened at alt-weeklies like us: chains in bankruptcy, print runs cut, distribution locations cut, staffs cut. Reality-based guys like me start looking for ways to reduce costs without hurting quality before those changes become compulsory.

So we moved a tiny table of contents to the cover so readers can go straight to their favorite features. We moved Streetalk next to the editorial/guest commentary spot. In the back of the newspaper, we made a horizontal design for several of our features.

I’ve written before about the hopes I have for a post-mega-chain journalism world. I believe giants like Gannett will soon have to drop their newspapers. I think an opportunity is emerging for a return to local management of daily newspapers, and their survival will hinge on it.