Indy Digest: May 9, 2022
Journalism, and the state of the newspaper business, have been on my mind a lot as of late.
Yeah, yeah: As you may suspect, journalism is generally on my mind; I’m a newspaper publisher and editor, after all. But it’s been even more on my mind, thanks to various goings-on.
Going in one direction is the Washington City Paper. The D.C.-based publication has long been one of the nation’s best—and it just published its final print edition. From now on, the City Paper—with a smaller staff, of course—will be online only.
Going in another direction is the Reno News & Review. As of Jan. 31, it became the Independent’s sister publication—in other words, I acquired it. A weekly newspaper in some form or another since 1993, the RN&R published its heretofore final print edition on March 19, 2020. At that time, the entire staff was laid off; when the pandemic took away most of the newspaper’s advertising and distribution locations, the former owners decided it was time to stop, at least temporarily. The paper soon came back, in limited fashion, as an online-only publication, and the RN&R has more or less been limping along ever since—but still producing great work here and there, saved by the herculean efforts of editor Frank X. Mullen, a Nevada Newspaper Hall of Famer.
Since I took over, Frank and I have been bulking up the content. And over Memorial Day weekend, the RN&R will be back in print, as a monthly, with a June edition.
It’d be a gross understatement to say getting the RN&R back into print has been a challenge. For one thing, the last commercial printer in Northern Nevada shut down a couple of months ago. We got print bids from places all around Northern California before deciding on a printer in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that printer is 433 miles away from our distribution space in Northern Nevada, and we have to pay to have it trucked that distance, at a time of $5-plus-per-gallon gas prices. It’ll cost almost twice as much to print and transport the June 2022 edition of the RN&R than it did to print an edition in March 2020
When I look at newspapers like the Washington City Paper pulling the plug on print editions, it makes me wonder if we’re crazy to be trying to get the RN&R back into print. It makes me wonder if perhaps the Independent would be better off online-only, too.
But then I think about all the people who don’t have reliable broadband access. And I think of all the people who prefer print over digital news, be it due to habit, preference or technology.
And then I think of the response we’ve gotten in Reno since we announced the return of the print edition of the RN&R. It has been loud and unanimously joyous. There are a lot of Northern Nevadans elated to be getting their alternative newspaper back in a physical form.
How will this all turn out? I have no idea. It depends on how much advertiser and reader support we get.
The moral of this rambling story of mine: Support local news media. If you own a business, advertise. If you’re a reader who has the means, subscribe or become a supporter. If you’re a reader who doesn’t have the means, spread the word about the good work these papers are doing.
To all of you who support the Independent: Thank you. To those of you who don’t … well, what are you waiting for? We really need it. We don’t want to go the way of the Washington City Paper, or of the pre-June Reno News & Review. Producing and distributing quality local news is difficult and expensive … and those of us who have journalism on the mind all the time need your help to keep doing what we do.
From the Independent
By Matt King
May 9, 2022
Screenings of new additions to the Western genre, showings of classic movies beautifully restored by Paramount, anniversary screenings, talks, live music and more are all set for the first Pioneertown Film Festival.
By Greg Niemann
May 6, 2022
In 1905, a friend recommended John Muir bring his daughter, Helen, to Palm Springs for better health. He took the advice.
By Bob Grimm
May 9, 2022
Doctor Strange has always been one of the nuttier Avengers, so it is suitable that with Madness, he gets the nuttiest movie.
By Bob Grimm
May 9, 2022
Mike Myers plays many characters in The Pentaverate, and he plays them well, but the narrative is stretched wafer-thin over the six episodes.
• The Coachella Valley is in the midst of a full-on COVID-19 surge. The results of last week’s city of Palm Springs wastewater testing showed yet more SARS-CoV-2. Samples taken on May 2 and 3 showed 662,714 and 1,124,989 viral copies per liter—higher than at any time other than the December/January 2020-2021 surge that overwhelmed hospitals, and the omicron surge.
• Reader Will P. wrote in to note that the surge is rather apparent at Palm Springs Unified schools. He pointed me toward the PSUSD dashboard, which shows 79 current total cases.
• Your primary-election ballots should be arriving rather soon. KTLA reports: “County election officials across California have begun sending out vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters. Monday marked the last day counties could start mailing out the ballots for California’s June 7, 2022 primary election. Every registered voter is receiving a ballot in the mail because of a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, AB 37, that ensures all voters are sent ballots that can be returned by mail, at a secure drop box, or in person.”
• Our partners at CalMatters report: “California is poised this year to make changes to what some call ‘hidden’ court fees, hundreds of dollars often tacked onto traffic tickets and minor violations that can increase their cost nearly tenfold. But so far, state officials disagree on how far to go. Known as a civil assessment, the fee is imposed on hundreds of thousands of Californians as a penalty for failing to pay a ticket by a deadline or failing to appear in court on a charge. The vast majority of the fees are issued in traffic or infraction cases. A fine can be imposed each time a deadline is missed. A $300 maximum fine can be added for violations as minor as jaywalking and on tickets that originally cost as little as $35, according to the Debt Free Justice California, a coalition of organizations, policy experts and legal advocates opposing ‘unfair ways the criminal legal system drains wealth from vulnerable communities.’”
• Wired takes a look at the damage climate change is doing to the desert—specifically, to the desert’s skin: “Eighty-five miles from the small town of Moab, Utah, located on the Colorado Plateau in the southwest of the US, soil ecologist Rebecca Finger-Higgens is hopscotching on copper-toned sandstone to avoid stepping on the desert’s black, burnt-looking crust of soil. Don’t bust the crust, the saying here goes. Don’t tiptoe on the crypto.’ Cryptobiotic soil—or biocrust—forms the top layer of the desert, a ‘skin’ squirming with living organisms. Just as microscopic organisms are vital to our health (think gut bacteria for digestion and disease prevention), the desert’s skin hosts a whole community of organisms that are vital to the ecosystem. Without the desert’s skin, much less life would exist in these lands; flowers would wilt and sparse pockets of shrubs would struggle to survive.”
• And finally … could a not-for-profit drug-maker be the answer to solving sky-high insulin prices? A professor of medicine, writing for The Conversation, says: “Civica Rx, a nonprofit that manufactures generic drugs, is trying to help solve this problem. It’s planning to produce generic insulin for no more than $30 for a month’s worth of the drug at a factory being built in Petersburg, Virginia. Eventually the drugmaker intends to sell all three of the most popular kinds of insulin, starting in 2024 with glargine. Based on my research regarding the pharmaceutical industry and my work as a doctor who treats patients with diabetes, I believe this effort, announced in March 2022, may greatly increase access to insulin for hundreds of thousands of people who need but can’t currently afford it.”