To say running an online news source is a wild ride would be an understatement.
ThisisReno started in 2009. A group of local media professionals watched in dismay as our local news ecosystem was being decimated with staff cuts that dramatically affected the breadth and depth of Reno news coverage.
Alarmingly, those news networks failed to truly acknowledge the seriousness these far-away decisions made by their profitable, corporate owners had on our community.
I fondly remember my stint as a pre-teen, up to age 15, delivering not one but three different daily newspapers at various paperboy jobs. Print news today, though, has sadly become a snide anachronism in many instances.
That aside, our local TV stations continue to provide regularly breaking news for the benefit of the community. Want to know what’s going on, on any given day? Tune in to one of your lowly paid local broadcast reporters or local radio sources. We are a feeder market, and those personnel are frequently gone in a year or two, but they maintain the pulse of on-the-ground, local news. They deserve a thanks.
Our executive in chief regularly blasts the news media as an “enemy of the people.” ThisisReno has felt the effects of this kind of rhetoric. Our freelance reporters have been physically manhandled — by members of the political right and left — we’ve been called “fake news,” and we’ve even had people try to have others stop advertising with us because of personal or organizational slights, real or perceived, accurate or not.
We’ve been denied public records for months on end by incompetent bureaucrats or those, such as Governor Brian Sandoval’s Office, who tilt personal interpretations of Nevada’s Public Records Act toward their favor. Which is exactly against the spirit of the Act.
These things are to be expected.
— RTDNA (@RTDNA) November 30, 2017
You may have heard that, today, hundreds of media outlets are penning statements decrying President Donald Trump’s ongoing assault on the press. No doubt, his words are offensive to America’s commitment to press freedom, which is enshrined in the First Amendment and subsequent case law.
More galling, however, are his supporters — and opponents — who attack the press when it doesn’t fit their personal and political narrative. For many, it has become more a cultural norm, even an expectation, to do so. Newsrooms are being forced to hire security for their reporters so they don’t get assaulted or killed. That is insane.
The free press is necessary for democracy. It’s not perfect. We make mistakes. Honest news media acknowledge, correct, apologize if necessary, and move on, hopefully wiser and better. In fact, a cursory review of media law will show the importance of the right of the free press to be wrong. Again, this is enacted in the First Amendment and case history.
No doubt about it: The news media should be held to a higher standard; however, the insults, attacks, harassment, and wholesale ad hominem dismissals of the news media are intellectually shallow, serve only base human instincts of fear and anger, and are ultimately harmful to the very democracy these folks claim to represent.
Worse are those who wantonly sue news outlets when they feel aggrieved. (There are better, more effective ways to get your message across in the era of social media if one feels they are treated unfairly by the news media.) Rich, powerful people who try, and sometimes succeed, in shutting down the news media should always be viewed with grave concern. The reason is simple: America would not exist in its current form without the spirit of the free press, a press that was at its time vehemently critical of its government and those in power.
We all learned that in school as children. Press manipulators are not the antidote to freedom, but a hindrance to it by selfishly using and abusing the media to further their personal aims.
I don’t have a solution to the anxiety and angst we experience today, but despite our many imperfections, the news media remain vital for democracy.
Here in Reno, there are plenty of media sources to choose from. I’m partial to the independents: Reno Mom’s Blog, Reno-Tahoe Tonight, Downtown Makeover, Our Town Reno, Reno News & Review (Calif.-owned, but independent), Reno Arts News, Edible Reno-Tahoe, the many great locally produced podcasts, and at the state level, the Nevada Current and Nevada Independent.
Locally owned news is more historically in line with what our founding fathers knew, not the behemoth networks that have become the norm.
ThisisReno remains committed to our community, being truly local, and maintaining press freedoms. We hope that is of value to you, our readers.
Our tolerance for insults and attacks, however, is thin. And no, it’s not a First Amendment violation, or censorship, to moderate comments, ensure community standards, or to remove bad actors from being disruptive. By all means, become your own media source and shout your views from the rooftops. We did.
Readers should be skeptical of the news — I know I am; I even wrote a book about it — but attacking the news media because it’s politically fashionable is not a sustainable or remotely productive path forward.
Call us out for errors, missed context, incomplete coverage, lack of proper credit, or anything we may have screwed-up on. Criticism, especially if it is constructive, can make us better.
Harassment and assaults, however, negatively affect everybody’s freedom.
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Date: October 4, 2016. Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, Arizona.
If you like what we do, may we kindly suggest supporting us financially by becoming a member?