Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
In reaction to the Reno Gazette-Journal’s detailed, comprehensive, multi-part investigative series about the disturbing spike of inmate deaths in the Washoe County jail since he took office two years ago, Washoe Sheriff Chuck Allen released a statement blasting the daily newspaper. He condemned the series as “politically charged, opinion based, agenda driven,” and, worst of all, “tabloidism.”
By “tabloidism,” I think he actually meant “sensationalism,” but whatever. Speaking as the editor of a newspaper that’s printed in a tabloid format—as opposed to a broadsheet like the RG-J—I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s a great series, and I suggest readers take the time to clear their browser cache of cookies and complete whatever stupid consumer quizzes it takes to read it online. And, yes, it’s nice to see our daily newspaper aspiring to the level of a good tabloid paper. And if the RG-J did take a little inspiration for their series about inmate deaths from Fatal Encounters, the RN&R’s 2014 project examining officer-involved civilian deaths? So much the better.
(RN&R editor emeritus D. Brian Burghart is still working on that project, by the way. We hardly ever see him anymore, either.)
We don’t always like what our cross-town rivals get up to over there in corporate Gannett land—we still haven’t gotten a straight answer about how many people are getting laid off when the newspaper starts outsourcing their printing—but we’re happy to doff the cap when they do great work. With hegemonic attacks on First Amendment rights occurring in this country on a daily basis, we’re proud to support good journalism wherever we see it.
And Sheriff Allen, rather than resorting to name-calling—complimentary or not—a better reaction to this news series might be a careful examination of the stories and the data, and reform of conditions—particularly regarding mental health—which might prevent these incidents from recurring, and might lead to a responsive reply to the RG-J series.