In 2013, I took a buyout after 25 years as a reporter and editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal. I got a call from Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, a Texas transplant who became one of Nevada’s favorite sons.
“You’re too young to be nailing the old coonskin to the wall,” Bob drawled. I told him I’d still be working—writing books, teaching and performing in Chautauqua. I’d made a living telling stories for decades, I noted, and I wouldn’t stop spinning yarns. But I’d sworn off full-time jobs forever, especially one listed at the top of a newspaper’s masthead.
Seven years later, COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives, eventually killed 1.1 million Americans (and counting) and erased countless businesses. The Reno News & Review shut down in March 2020. I was hired weeks later to keep the RN&R alive online “for about three months” until the pandemic ended.
During the first year, I felt like a lone defender on the walls of the Alamo. (Cashell, who died in 2020, would have appreciated the simile.) The job was both a burden and a blessing. As the country was roiled by contagion, economic woes, toxic politics and civil strife, I was back in my element, reporting from the streets, not trapped at home as news broke out all over.
When former editor Jimmy Boegle bought the paper last year, I stayed on as editor/reporter to help shepherd it back into print. I always planned to return to projects I’d put on hold—and now I am.
This is my last issue as managing editor. Veteran Reno journalist Kris Vagner will take the conn.
I’ll remain a contributor, so I’ll still see you in the funny papers. It has been an honor, a privilege and an unexpected last hurrah to be at the helm of the RN&R these past 40 months.
And now my watch is ended.