Governor Steve Sisolak has taken strong measures to prevent COVID-19 from overwhelming Nevada’s hospitals. He ordered businesses to close and issued a temporary ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
The economic impact of the disease – due to the new restrictions as well as the illness itself – are already being felt around the state. With restaurants, bars and clubs shuttered, advertising revenue has also dried up.
After the COVID-19 pandemic ends, what will be left? In particular, what will be left of Nevada’s news outlets?
Major papers have cut back on staff and some types of coverage. Rural papers here and there are closing.
That led the Reno News & Review, an alt-weekly newspaper serving Northern Nevada for 25 years, to close, too.
The paper’s parent company has been struggling financially for years, but the recession caused by the COVID-19 outbreak was too much to bear.
"We’ve been working in pretty thin margins for a long time and it’s not like we were in a robust financial situation prior to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Brad Bynum, editor of the Reno News & Review.
Bynum said that most of the paper's revenue came from local advertisers but now that those businesses have shuttered the paper had to close.
“It wasn’t a total shock but it was still really disappointing and surprising,” he said.
Bynum said he has overwhelmed with messages of disbelief and support from friends and members of the community. It's that community that Bynum says will be losing something important now that the News & Review is gone.
“Newspapers like the Reno News & Review, not just alternative news weeklies, but a lot of smaller newspapers are sort of the middle ground between larger, corporate media outlets and totally unvetted, totally unresearched, unreliable internet rumors,” he said.
Bynum said that many people seem to think that newspapers like his are part of larger media conglomerates and that's not the case. There were just three full-time employees in his newsroom and they're all from the Reno area.
He said the paper concentrated on reviews of local restaurants, theatres and music, but it also tried to give a long-term view of news going on in Reno.
“By losing that kind of community journalism, you lose a lot of the stories that actually reflect the community and are written by people who live here,” he said.
There are efforts underway to revive the Reno News & Review. The publisher, which also published papers in Chico and Sacramento, is looking at possible partnerships or selling the papers or using a nonprofit model.
“There’s possibilities for it coming back in some way or another but as it is now, it’s indefinitely suspended,” Bynum said.
Brad Bynum, Editor, Reno News & Review
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.