Join us for a chat about the future of the ‘RN&R’

You’re invited to a community meeting to discuss the future of the Reno News & Review. It’s happening at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 3, at The Generator, 2450 Oddie Blvd., in Sparks.  

At the meeting, we’ll discuss our plans to become a community-owned nonprofit, answer any questions you may have about the process, and get contact information from people who are willing to help in one way or another. There will be no formal presentation—just a bunch of people who care about the RN&R getting together to chat. 

(If you can’t make it on Jan. 3, or if you saw this after Jan. 3, and you have input, have questions or want to help, please call me at 775-324-4440, or email [email protected].) 

The RN&R is far from the only community newspaper facing questions about its future. In the days leading up to Christmas, two stalwarts of local independent media announced major changes and cutbacks—including one publication those of us at the RN&R know very well, because it’s our former sister publication. 

The Chico News & Review announced its January print edition would be its last. The granddaddy of the News & Review publications at 46 years old, the CN&R will continue—in a more limited form—online. 

“For the past 3 1/2 years, the newspaper has persevered, publishing monthly with the hope that ad sales would bounce back post-COVID pandemic,” said editor Jason Cassidy in a note to readers. “Unfortunately, they haven’t, and we find ourselves at a crossroads. We will now try to forge a new path. The CN&R’s mission will persist online, where we will channel our resources toward enhancing coverage of local government and continuing as the go-to resource for local arts information.” 

A couple of states to our east, the 30-year-old Colorado Springs Independent announced it would be taking “a break” and would “cease publishing for the immediate future.”  

“If we’re going to succeed, we will need everyone’s support and encouragement,” wrote publisher Fran Zankowski. “It’s too important for the health of our community to let this voice be silenced. With great hope, optimism and resilience, our plan is to eliminate our debt, reorganize and return in February with a financially stable, successful and revitalized publication.” 

While some independent news outlets are persevering, the industry as a whole is not in great shape. TheWrap, a media/entertainment news source, had this to say in a December article: “Broadcast, print and digital outlets collectively saw 2,681 journalism job cuts in 2023, up 48% from 1,808 in 2022 and 77% from 1,511 in 2021, according to a report from employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. With a collapsing advertising-revenue model and more media companies experimenting with artificial intelligence to create content, the outlook for journalism is dimming, media analysts told TheWrap. The decline underscores the need for the public and even governments to fund news gathering if it is to survive in its current form and avoid widespread ‘news deserts,’ they said.” 

So … that’s the bad news. And now for the good news: We’re fairly confident that our plan to convert to nonprofit status can assure the RN&R has a long future ahead of it. 

Last month in this space, I bemoaned the fact that our advertising revenue is trending in the wrong direction. On the flip side, reader support is increasing—and while it’s not enough to get us into the black, at least it’s trending in the right direction. 

Nonprofit status will allow us to pursue grants for which we’re not currently eligible, and it will mean the donations we accept from readers can be tax-deductible, if the readers so choose. I have good news to report here, too: While we head down the road toward setting up our own nonprofit, we’ve signed a fiscal sponsorship agreement with the Alternative Newsweekly Foundation (altnewsfoundation.org), a nonprofit “dedicated to supporting news outlets that provide coverage on a local level and strive to achieve exceptional journalism.” (Full disclosure: I am on the ANF board, but I recuse myself from any matters involving the RN&R.) The ANF can now accept tax-deductible grants and donations on our behalf (keeping 6 percent to pay for credit fees, filings, etc.). So if you’re looking for a great cause AND a tax deduction—look no further than the RN&R

I hope to see you on Wednesday, Jan. 3, at The Generator—and again, if you can’t make it but want to help or know more, drop me a line.