Robert Perea is the editor and publisher of Fernley, Nevada’s newspaper, The Fernley Reporter. With the advent of internet technology, the reporting of rural Nevada news, indeed rural American news has become a “news desert”.
Please take the time to read this outstanding editorial by Robert. It may remind you of what genuine journalism is.
Ever since I first started the Fernley Reporter in 2016, I’ve consistently had people tell me I should write a regular editorial column. I’ve resisted for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is that I’m not at all interested in editorializing. Also, writing a column and writing news stories require different skill sets, and while I’m pretty confident in my ability to report a story and write about it, column writing is not so much in my wheelhouse. But mainly, the reason is because, since the fall of 2018, I’ve been reduced to working on the website part time. That’s when I ran out of money, but instead of letting the site go, I needed to go back to work to cover my bills while trying to keep the site afloat. I’d rather spend what time I do have reporting on news and sports than writing a column.
A fourth reason I resisted was because a regular column has to have a catchy name, and for six years, I couldn’t think of one. Until it hit me all of a sudden.
The inside veer is the base play of the offense the Fernley High School football team runs. It’s much more complicated than this, but the easiest way to explain it is that everything Fernley does on offense is built from the foundation of the inside veer.
And since Fernley football is the reason the site still exists, for reasons I will explain, the name makes perfect sense, because like Fernley’s offense, this site is built upon a single concept that everything else flows from. I believe a newspaper is an essential component of a vibrant community. Fernley personifies everything that happens in a community without a newspaper – low civic engagement, low voter turnout, rampant misinformation circulating via social media.
I’ve been publishing the Fernley Reporter since June 1, 2016, and in only one of its six years in existence has revenue exceeded expenses, and that was by the whopping sum of $113. Those expenses, by the way, haven’t include paying me. I’ve never paid myself a dime of Fernley Reporter revenue, and that has to change if I’m going to be able to continue to do this.
Anyone else with any business sense at all would have cut bait a long time ago. I was at that point as my business license renewal was coming due on June 1, 2019. But at that point, I was still recovering from a serious health issue that required one major surgery and two minor procedures, and I decided that before I gave up, I would give it one more year of my full attention to see if I could make it.
Then, one July evening just after 5 p.m., Dr. Gerard Hershewe called me.
Dr. Hershewe, who has since retired, was a neuro-ophthalmologist in Reno who had treated my dad for the last couple of years of his life after he had a stroke. More recently, he had treated my brother, who has multiple sclerosis, for several years. But that night, Dr. Hershewe was calling to tell me that an MRI had shown multiple tumors on my mom’s brain.
The next four months still feel like the longest day of my life.
Further testing initially revealed that the largest tumor, which was removed by a neurosurgeon, was actually a carcinoma that had originated somewhere else in the body. After she spent three weeks in a rehab hospital undergoing physical and occupational therapy, my mom was released to come home, although requiring 24-hour per day supervision.
I dropped everything else, grabbed a few necessities and spent the next four months taking care of her.
Mom underwent two weeks of radiation therapy, but that was stopped after a PET scan showed that not only had the tumors come from somewhere else, they were spread throughout her entire body.
I kept the site going by covering whatever I could via text, email or phone calls. The only exception was football. That’s because on Friday nights, my brother’s caregiver, who was a close friend of mine, would bring my brother to visit my mom. They would stay with her for three or four hours, while I went off to the football game.
It also happened to be the season that the Vaqueros, after starting league play with a 1-2 record, put together a winning streak that got them into the playoffs.
On Friday, Nov. 8, the Vaqueros beat Truckee 35-28 in the first round of the playoffs.
Mom died three days later, on Nov. 11.
On Nov. 16, Fernley went to Las Vegas and beat Cheyenne 35-30, then on Nov. 23, they pulled off an improbable upset, beating Fallon 24-20 to win the 3A state championship.
Throughout the season, Fernley coach Chris Ward had known about my mom’s condition, and every week when he saw me on the sidelines, he would ask me how she was doing.
Finally, after the end of the season, I told him the full story.
“I wondered why you kept coming,” he said.
I kept coming because that three or four hours every Friday night was my only respite each week, what allowed me to get through the other 164 hours.
Had I listened to my head instead of my heart that June, I would have shuttered the site and missed all that.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much longer I can continue to publish the Fernley Reporter. It still costs me money and the limited time I have to spend on it is not enough to keep up with everything I should be covering.
But for now, just like the Vaqueros’ offense, I’m still running my own personal inside veer, and maybe someday I’ll break one for a touchdown.