Mark Robison returns to RGJ as grant-funded local government reporter

Mark Robison is probably a byline you know if you’ve been reading the Reno Gazette Journal for a while.

Robison joined our newspaper in 1993 and has held many positions over the years, from editor to writing the RGJ’s fact checker column, before leaving to work in the nonprofit rescue sector. animals in 2017.

He returned to our newsroom at the end of January to begin an important new chapter for the RGJ: as a local government reporter and director of community engagement.

The way Robison’s post is funded is also a first for this news organization.

His salary will be covered by both a generous grant from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust as well as individual donors in our community.

This was made possible through our partnership with the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada and an area of ​​interest fund we established with them.

This means our readers are able to directly support Robison’s local government coverage. It also means that there is no commercial gain for our parent company, Gannett.

Make a donation: Click here to directly support our position as a local government reporter

We created this fund to help us grow our newsroom given the significant challenges facing the newspaper industry. Because Robison’s position is supported by donations and grants, all journalism he publishes will be made freely available without concern for commercial return.

In short, it is the very essence of public service journalism and it is a mission that is close to my heart.

You can donate to support Robison by going to RGJ.com/donate.

I asked Robison a few questions about his time here at the RGJ and what he hopes to do with his new role.

Your signature is probably familiar to many of our long-time readers. Tell us a bit about your history with the Reno Gazette Journal and why you’re taking on this new role.

I started here in 1993 as an editor. My most significant accomplishment at the RGJ was quickly falling in love with and marrying my wife, Dianne, who was the imaging supervisor in the newspaper’s production department. We are together to this day, living near Pyramid Lake. I held numerous positions within the RGJ over the next 24 years, ending as a “fact checker” and as an editor overseeing opinion pages and coordinating events that connected the room of writing to the community.

In 2017, I transitioned into the nonprofit world when I had the opportunity to help animal shelters and rescue groups all over Nevada save more animals. I was inspired to return to the Reno Gazette Journal after learning about a journalist position whose mission is to make sure our local government works for everyone.

This local government reporting position represents our first-ever grant-funded position, which means we will rely on the generosity of our community to help fund it. What message do you have for our readers about this mission?

I see this position as a relationship with the community. His stories should make you – the person reading this – better informed, wiser about what’s going on around us. I understand the skepticism about this reporting position.

Only if I live up to the mission of the position do I expect someone to donate to sustain and sustain it for years to come. It’s really inspiring.

I want you, the reader, to comment on what facts to check, questions to answer, what I got wrong, and what you think I could do better. It is this relationship – and the trust that flows from it – that will make this journalistic experience a success. I can’t wait to get started, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey, commenting, sharing, and helping guide the issues and stories that will be covered.

What are the biggest stories you plan to cover about local government in Truckee Meadows?

Reno is at a tipping point, and it’s unclear which direction we’re going to go. As housing prices in the area become increasingly out of reach for many of us and the streets, fields and riverbanks become increasingly crowded with people without permanent accommodation, I want to understand what is happening and share what I find. What works and how do we encourage more? What isn’t working, why isn’t it working and how can we stop doing these things?

To be more specific, I hear concern for people displaced by downtown development projects that have razed weekly motels as well as cheers to get rid of the often dangerous and unhealthy magnets of crime. How can we ensure that what happens in place of these motels makes our community a better place to live? How much developer money is going to influence city council members? Why are so many people living in tents when there are signs of help needed everywhere? If you have any questions you want answered, send them to me at [email protected]

Local journalism continues to evolve amid shifting reader habits from print to online. What motivates you to do journalism in our community amidst all this upheaval in our profession?

Local journalism is where the action is. Much of national news and politics can so easily be tainted by “my team versus your team” thinking. Journalism at this level is more of a spectator sport, if that sport were professional wrestling. People live there. They can see if local journalism is relevant to their lives. They can interact with the journalists themselves. We’re in the same boat here in northern Nevada, one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion. Together we can make this place an even better place to live – and part of that is keeping a close eye on what’s going on in the local government.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

No. A sandwich means that other food is literally sandwiched between two pieces of bread. A hot dog has a single bun that bends over so the dog doesn’t – and can’t – get sandwiched between anything. If a hot dog is a sandwich, then a taco could be considered a sandwich. No, just no.