Growth of an Alliance

I took some time over Spring Break to look back on what we’ve done so far. It makes me happy to see the breadth of issues that our reporters have covered — animal cruelty legislation, protests, measures to protect children from human trafficking, and so much more. Their work has been featured in the Reno Gazette-Journal and on our local NPR and PBS affiliate stations — and it’s no wonder why. It’s quality journalism. In little more than two months time, our team has grown into a corps of seasoned capitol press journalists.

It is with all of this progress in mind that I look forward to the last half of the semester. Key deadlines are approaching for the legislature, and in the newsroom, there is the pervading feeling of a pot ready to boil. Our reporters know what is happening in the capitol, and each of them has covered legislation on which they can now be considered the “go to” source for information.

We are looking forward to continuing to provide you with timely coverage from our state’s capitol. In the weeks to come, we will be exploring new ways to keep you informed on key issues developing in the legislature, starting with a weekly podcast to be hosted by our Managing Editor, Alex Pompliano.

Thank you to all of our readers and to our community partners. We’re proud to be a reliable source for objective reporting and honored to represent the Reynolds School of Journalism and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Jeri Chadwell
Nevada Media Alliance Senior Editor

Attorney Blogger Sean McDonald Delves into NV Legislature

by RILEY SNYDER

From the Steven Brooks debacle to the controversial margins tax proposal, the 2013 Nevada Legislature has confronted a number of issues that delve into complicated legal territory. This lack of clarity means that attorney Sean McDonald’s legislative blog Amicus Nevada is receiving more and more attention by journalists, legislators and other interested parties since the site’s launch in February. I find McDonald’s take on many of legislative issues to be more interesting than usual partisan banter, as he is one of the few online sources I’ve found to actually delve into the issues (one post on the margins tax is more than 4,000 words long). Last week I reached out to McDonald to discuss his blog, the response it has received, and his goals for the future.

Riley Synder (RS): Can you give a little background on yourself and your knowledge about Nevada politics and law?
Sean McDonald (SM): I am a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), [with a degree] in Political Science and of the William S. Boyd School of Law – I am a licensed attorney. I first became directly involved in the political process and the law at the state level in 2009, when I served as session staff on the Assembly Judiciary and Corrections, Parole, and Probation Committees. In 2011, while still in law school, I served as a legal extern with Sam McMullen and his crew at Snell & Wilmer, lobbying the [Nevada] Legislature. Prior to that, my first foray into politics on any level was a successful run for student government at UNR, where I was twice elected to the student senate. I’ve had an interest in politics for nearly as long as I can remember, but it was my service in the Associated Students of UNR and first session at the Legislature that got me hooked.

RS: What prompted you to launch Amicus Nevada?
SM: Given my interests, it seemed only natural to start blogging about them. I think my friends are glad that I have a new outlet for my political musings.

RS: How much of a response have you gotten from people/journalists/other legal experts/lawmakers?
SM: Before the journalists covering politics and the politicos in Carson City picked up on my little blog, there really was no response. But as soon as Elizabeth Crum, Steve Sebelius, and Jon Ralston picked me up and linked to the blog, response, at least in terms of page views, took off like wildfire. I saw that Nevada Progressive, another blog, called me “Nevada’s hottest new legal blogger” – they obviously haven’t seen my mug.

RS: Do you have an ultimate goal with Amicus Nevada? Will you continue to update the blog once the session is finished?
SM: My goal was – and remains – to share my musings and opinions on the law and politics in Nevada. If my writings prove influential, that’s nice, but all I really wanted to do was contribute views that weren’t getting wider exposure or consideration. I’ll update the blog so long as interest remains and there’s something interesting to write about.

RS: Any other comments?
SM: The latest debate among my friends is whether I should spend the money for a permanent domain name. Seems a little early to be talking about the blog’s permanence, but we’ll see where this adventure takes me.

Follow Sean McDonald on Twitter @SWMcDonald86

A Mad Scramble

by SCOT JENKINS

One month ago, I was in a mad scramble trying to find a class for spring semester. Today, I was holding the elevator door for a Senator so we could both attend his committee hearing in a timely fashion. Tonight, as I look over my first article while awaiting the publication of my second, I can’t help but catch things that would make Paul Mitchell give me that clairvoyant look, the one where he doesn’t say anything but I can actually hear the bass of his voice in my mind saying: you are capable of doing better than this, right?

At the same time, I read the stories others are writing and think: are these students? Everyday it feels less and less like hauling our media field kit up the stupid flight of stupid stairs is just for class. I think it is awesome that we are the pioneers for this class, we are the only ones who ever saw the site bare, and now it has more construction going on daily than downtown Reno. And it has only been a month — what will come of the next two?