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The Nevada Independent

Change and hope

Jon Ralston
Jon Ralston

This is the worst of times at The Indy, but I believe the best of times is ahead.

Today, I had to inform some valuable employees and wonderful people that they were being laid off because of budget concerns. Because of staff members voluntarily departing for a variety of personal reasons and new career opportunities, and a handful of layoffs, our staff page will soon have slightly more than half as many team members as we did at our peak last year.

There isn’t a person at this organization I haven’t enjoyed working with, and I am truly sorry for the hardship I have caused. I will miss all of them, I will help them where I can, I hate to have had to do this.

The remaining staff is sharing in the sacrifice, too. Managers are taking a 20 percent cut for three months, and staffers are absorbing a 10 percent cut for the quarter. I will not be taking a salary indefinitely.

I take full responsibility for where we are. It’s unfortunate, and yet it is true for journalism across the country in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds that it is hard to make this work. From the largest news organizations to smaller ones such as The Indy, it is difficult to make ends meet, to show people the value of what we do, to be the fabric that binds together democracy.

I refuse, though, to let this become a Dickensian tale shrouded in darkness and despair. Too many people depend on us for the kind of deeply reported, illuminating journalism that this staff has provided for more than seven years, especially on government, campaigns and public policy. The world has only become more chaotic, more indecipherable, more polarizing.

Our goal when we started was to pierce all of that, to surmount the steepest of hills to gain the trust of readers. On that front, we have succeeded. Hundreds of thousands of people come to the site every month, thousands of donors regularly show their appreciation. But there is so much more to do — and we need help in every way.

I have spent the last couple of months on a fact-finding tour, North and South, trying to gauge how people view what we do. I listened and learned a lot. There were plaudits, criticism and suggestions.

I came away reinvigorated to focus on the core mission from seven years ago: to dive deeply into elections and government, to practice accountability journalism wherever we can and to be a seminal part of this state’s civic discourse about important issues of the day.

I am committed as I ever have been, and I know the staff is, too. I have never believed in anything more than I do in The Indy, the people who make it what it is and the mission we all have embraced.

We will survive — I assured that by making these painful cuts. But survival is not enough. We don’t cover all the things we want to now, and this reduction in force will make that even more difficult. Rural Nevada is becoming a news desert, and we can’t let urban Nevada also become parched.

I am hopeful about the future, and we plan on making changes so our election coverage is even deeper, our newsletters are even better and our deeply reported accountability pieces more frequent. More on all of that coming soon.

The Indy is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done, but it will be a long time before I have a far, far better rest than I have ever known. Thanks to everyone who has read and supported us since 2017, and I hope you stay as committed to us as we are to the cause we all believe in.


Jon Ralston is the CEO and editor of The Indy.


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