Veteran Reno journalist Dennis Myers of the Reno News & Review died today. The official word came this afternoon after Myers was erroneously reported deceased on social media Saturday, including in posts shared by ThisisReno.
The confusion came because Myers was declared brain dead Saturday afternoon, which was misinterpreted online. He was kept alive but on life support through today so that his organs could be used for transplants.
Myers ironically warned of the potential for such errors just two months ago.
“There’s a malady in our line of work that involves getting a story wrong at an early stage, and believing it ourselves,” he wrote in June for the Pahrump Valley Times.
He was writing about TV reporters jumping the gun on a voter turnout in an early-2000s election.
Myers, the news editor of the News & Review, had a lengthy career as a Nevada journalist, including stints at News Channel 2 and KOLO-TV 8.
He had an uncanny knack for calling bullshit on elected officials and public entities. He won an award after publicizing Assemblyman Ira Hansen’s bigoted opinion columns for the Sparks Tribune from the mid-’90s.
“He was the best that ever was.”
“For many years, starting on May 11, 1994, (Hansen) wrote a column for the Sparks Tribune. The Tribune did not go online until relatively recently, so access to and knowledge of most of the Hansen columns has not been easy,” Myers reported in 2014. “We reviewed every column on microfilm for this piece, covering a period of 13 years, plus a few that did make it onto the Trib website.
“In these columns, his viewpoint evolved very little. In fact, some columns ran unchanged time and again as the years passed.”
Myers proceeded to detail knuckle-dragging views expressed by Hansen about women, African Americans, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
“Hansen could not survive. He should not have survived,” remarked another veteran Nevada journalist, Jon Ralston.
Myers received an award from the Reno-Sparks NAACP for his reporting. Hansen stepped down as Speaker of the Assembly after Myers’ report.
“Myers and his crew of RN&R journalists were awarded the inaugural NAACP Eddie Scott/Bertha Woodard Human Rights Advocacy Award in 2015,” said Myers’ friend and labor commentator Andrew Barbano. “The honor is named after two former Reno-Sparks NAACP presidents and Nevada civil rights legends.
“He was a consistent and admirable advocate for the rights of minorities, workers, and women. We will remember him at the NAACP’s 74th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet” in October, Barbano added.
Myers appeared in the Sparks Tribune, Las Vegas Business Press, and was a regular columnist for the Pahrump Valley Times.
“He was the best that ever was,” Barbano asserted, “I’ll put his work up against anyone’s since statehood.”
Barbano also nominated Myers this weekend for a hall-of-fame award from the Nevada Press Association, alongside former UNR Professor Jake Highton and photographer Don Dondero.
ThisisReno political writer Don Dike-Anukam said he considered Myers a mentor.
“He was always kind and funny to me,” he said. “I would say I am at a giant loss because I worked with him for a long time (since the Voicebox at UNR in 2007), and I have seen [the] work and effort he puts in the stories.”
Willie Puchert, a colleague of Myers, had this to say: “Dennis possessed an encyclopedic and institutional knowledge of politics and history that is irreplaceable. A great light has been extinguished.
“While he was a very private person, I have come to learn he had many who were in his extended family who were there to say goodbye to him. Among them were former Nevada First Lady Dawn Gibbons, former Regent Howard Rosenberg, former School B
Myers most recently edited our work in partnership with the Reno News & Review. He lent a keen editing eye for the following articles.
One of the last articles he may have ever edited was this article about the sale of the Reno Gazette-Journal building to the City of Reno.
The story byline was erroneously attributed to him, even though I wrote the article. It was correct online, but the print version shows his authorship while my name appears at the end of the article.
The story was about the changing nature of the news industry in the modern era.
“The RN&R will feature several in-depth remembrances and memorials in the upcoming weeks, but for the time being, suffice it to say that we lost an amazing colleague, a brilliant journalist, and a caring friend,” said News & Review Editor Brad Bynum. “Dennis was a walking encyclopedia of Nevada history, an incisive analyst of current events, and a fearless reporter who never hesitated to speak truth to power.”
Myers was 70 years old. He was an Army veteran and is survived by his brother, a daughter-in-law, four grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, and a niece.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.