The second independent media forum was held last week at the UNR Innevation Center. A crowd of about 50, many with the different media outlets in attendance, gathered to discuss in particular the many problems of today’s news ecosystem and how that impacts independent outlets.
A dozen representatives from independent news and niche media sources spoke on the panel, while Rory Dowd of the Worst Little Podcast and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve moderated the group.
“Any event like this is going to get caught up in defining what being local and independent means,” said organizer Bob Conrad (me). “There are many independent media voices in Reno, from bloggers and independent journalists to many great podcasters and the publications attending today.”
In attendance were Sagebrush Rider, Our Town Reno, Northern Nevada Business Weekly (owned by Sierra Nevada Group, which is owned by Swift Communications), Reno Moms Blog, Reno Arts News, Reno Dads, Edible Reno-Tahoe, ThisisReno, Reno Public Radio (licensed and owned by the Nevada Board of Regents), Reno Tahoe Tonight, and the Reno News & Review (owned by Chico Community Publishing in California).
While many of the panelists shared similar experiences and needs — more revenue was cited as a top need — panelists also disagreed about what makes a publication local and engaged with its local community.
The topic of fake news also got a lot of attention, with disagreement evident about what comprises fake news. Many agreed that media ownership — within a community versus an out of state company, or in the case of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a casino magnate — can influence the trustworthiness of news.
Achievements from some of the sources:
- Edible Reno-Tahoe continues to win awards as the region’s top food magazine and recently expanded to Sacramento.
- Reno Moms Blog in 2016 busted open a simmering story about the school district’s food guidelines that led to other media coverage and, ultimately, policy changes at the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
- New sources launched in the past two years, including Reno Dads, Sagebrush Rider, and Reno Arts News.
- OurTownReno continues to move the needle reporting on local issues, particularly homelessness.
- Reno Tahoe Tonight celebrated last year its eighth year in business as Reno’s premiere indie arts, fashion, music, and culture publication.
- Reno News & Review’s “Best of Northern Nevada” readers’ poll is the biggest and most popular in the region, attracting tens of thousands of votes every year.
- Reno Public Radio won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on Tesla.
Proceeds from the event, $200, will be donated to KWNK Radio, Reno’s new community radio station.