There was a considerable amount of news in 2021 that warranted reader commentaries. What most may not know is that in late 2020 we started fact-checking opinion submissions. That effectively halted certain groups from associating with our publication–a good thing.
The reason: speculative, unsupported information became the norm in an era when the credibility of information is in crisis. That doesn’t negate having an opinion about an issue.
Rather, the best arguments are grounded on factual and verifiable information. They also raise matters in ways fact-based reporting cannot. Even better, they come from others who don’t operate in a vacuum as we tend to do on the news production front.
It’s why we welcome reader opinions with the caveat that keener eyes will be on them. We had some incredible, passionate and thoughtful reader-submitted opinion articles in 2021. Here they are in order of popularity.
1. “Why I had to leave the school board” by Kurt Thigpen
Thigpen’s resignation from the Washoe County School Board got national attention. After his article was published, he was quoted in numerous news stories and was even interviewed on CBS Evening News about the public’s bullying and threats he received as an openly gay trustee. “At every school board meeting since, the threat level only got higher, school police presence got higher, and the vitriol, hate, harassment, intimidation and abuse by some members of the public only got worse as time went on,” he wrote.
2. “Justice for Tiffany” by Kurt Thigpen
Also by Thigpen, the tragic suicide of a Washoe County School District teacher went viral, and Thigpen shined a light on what happened to Tifanny Thiele. “The justice system itself desperately needs a hard look … at how reports on these types of cases are handled. For those of us that have suffered, we carry it with us for the rest of our lives,” Thigpen said.
3. “A new low for RTC” by Richard Birdsong
A bus driver weighed in on being a striking worker. “The drivers, dispatchers, road supervisors and maintenance workers of your RIDE Transit System deserve not only a decent wage but a little respect from RTC and Keolis,” Birdsong wrote in November as the third bus strike of the year was underway.
4. “Peehee Mu’huh speaks” by Daranda Hinkey
The Thacker Pass lithium mine project sparked repeated protests, legal fights and ongoing discussion. The issue, one commenter noted, pitted environmental concerns against other environmental concerns. Daranda Hinkey, a Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal member, said lithium at Thacker Pass north of Winnemucca should stay in the ground, lands occupied by her ancestors for generations. “My ancestors wish for our modern warriors to protect our Sacred,” she said. State and federal officials have determined the project to date meets all legal and environmental requirements.
5. “Gratitude to Reno City Council and Mayor” by Fauna Tomlinson
A local wildlife advocate took the time to thank city of Reno officials for passing a resolution in support of banning coyote hunts. “These animals are not problem animals, but animals doing what nature intended them to do: nature’s free rodent patrol,” Tomlinson wrote. The state wildlife commission, in November however, killed a measure that would have banned so-called trophy hunts. The matter could be addressed in the Nevada Legislature.
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 in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.