For months during the pandemic, Frank X. Mullen didn’t just work for the Reno News & Review; he was the Reno News & Review.
In May 2020, the RN&R published seven pieces online. Three of them were by Frank.
In June 2020, the RN&R published 14 pieces online. Eleven of them were by Frank.
In July 2020, the RN&R published 12 pieces online. All of them were by Frank.
In August 2020, the RN&R published 15 pieces online. Fourteen of them were by Frank.
This continued well into 2021, when he finally got a little help. And it’s not like Frank was phoning it in; many of these pieces were newsy, in-depth, exhaustively reported pieces. A couple of them, from August 2021, on the Stewart Indian School’s unmarked graves, even won second place in the investigative reporting category of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual awards—a national journalism contest.
Without Frank X. Mullen, it’s almost certain that this newspaper would not exist right now.
When my company acquired the paper in January 2022, Frank told me that, at some point, he was going to want to step back from being the editor. He had a book to write; he wanted to get back to Chautauqua; he never intended to be running the RN&R for as long as he had been; etcetera. I told him I understood, and to just let me know when that time came.
Then, well, he kept working.
With some semblance of a freelance budget restored, he started finding writers to help rebuild the news section. He worked tirelessly to help get us back into print, even volunteering to deliver papers if needed. And he kept reporting—winning two Association of Alternative Newsmedia awards for his 2022 work. Oh, and he wrote our first 10 (!) print-edition cover stories after our return (with a one-month break for Best of Northern Nevada a year ago).
Meanwhile, he kept mentioning his desire to step back. I kept telling him to give me an end date. He said he would; then he kept working. It got to the point where I began to wonder if he was ever actually going to give me an end date. Several months ago, he finally did: He said he’d stay on through the Best of Northern Nevada issue, and that, as editor, would be that.
Then … he kept working—never slowing down, as his just-published story on Truckee Meadows Community College shows.
His last official day as editor was yesterday, Sept. 8. He now has the title of editor at large (“but not ‘large editor,’” he clarified when I suggested the title). His writing and reporting will remain a prominent part of the Reno News & Review, I’m elated to say.
When Frank finally gave me his end date, and I started pondering who the RN&R’s next managing editor could be, one, and only one, name came to mind. I offered her the gig—and I was both elated and relieved she said yes.
On Monday, Kris Vagner will become the RN&R’s managing editor. She’s a former RN&R arts editor, and she’s the founder and editor of Double Scoop, a nonprofit online news organization that truly is “Nevada’s go-to source for visual arts news, commentary and events,” as the website says. (Fans of Double Scoop, never fear: We’ve arranged things so Kris can remain with Double Scoop.)
If you know Kris, you know she’s amazing. Her journalism knowledge, integrity and talent are perfect for the RN&R. She knows Northern Nevada impeccably well; she’s a wonderful writer; and she’s well-versed in both digital publishing and nonprofit news.
But her most important qualification is one she shares with Frank and me: She loves the Reno News & Review.
Welcome back, Kris. She can be reached at [email protected].