Journalism Alumnus to Participate in Beat Business Training Program
Bob Conrad, Ph.D., Reynolds School of Journalism graduate (‘95) and Proprietor / Co-Founder of ThisIsReno, was selected to participate in the prestigious and highly competitive 2015 Beat Business Training Program that the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism is sponsoring this summer at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. The program takes place June 22-28.
“Bob was selected to participate based on his thoughtful project proposal, his journalism experience, and his commitment to building a sustainable enterprise,” said Jeff Jarvis, associate professor for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
The Reynolds School of Journalism recently interviewed Conrad about his participation in this incredible tuition-free program.
RSJ: Why did you apply for this program?
Conrad: A call was put out for the training in March of this year. I had quit my job at the State of Nevada after seeing ThisisReno’s statistics climbing to record levels in early 2015, so I thought it was time to turn my passion of community-based news into full-time endeavor. When I saw the announcement for the Tow-Knight program, I immediately applied. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make the cut, since it was a competitive application open to anyone around the country, and it was limited to only 15 students. I got notice of being selected in early May and am ecstatic.
RSJ: Tell us how you made your application for the program stand out, ultimately helping the selection committee pick you to participate.
Conrad: I am very fortunate to attend the Beat Business Training at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. I believe I had a successful application for CUNY program because of many years of being a full-time professional in marketing and public relations, a part-time faculty member at two different institutions, as well as my background in magazine writing, independent publishing and my doctorate from Nevada, in which I spent many years completing a dissertation on how news media cover higher education institutions in times of crisis and controversy. The fact that I’ve been helping to run for nearly six years Reno’s only locally owned and operated, community-based news website was a great match for the program’s requirements.
RSJ: What are you looking forward to learning?
Conrad: Associate Professor Jeff Jarvis, Hal Straus and the team at the Tow-Knight Center are the leading thinkers in how journalism is being transformed, and, importantly for the future, how to make small journalism operations profitable. Their data support ventures like ThisisReno becoming sustainable, and even more importantly, valuable assets to their communities as other news media have become so corporate driven and commodified by stakeholder profit concerns, mismanagement and external influences.
The program is driven to build a successful business model, and I find with some amount of irony that small journalism operations are, historically, more in line with spirit of the independent press and what our country was accustomed to prior to big journalism companies taking over these smaller operations. In a sense, we’re seeing a revision of a trend in journalism; large corporate journalism cannot and has not as easily adapted to shifting journalistic landscape, while small operations and blogs can more easily fulfill market niches. We don’t have and don’t need the same overhead, bureaucracy and profit margins.
It remains to be seen whether ThisisReno can achieve huge market success, but I believe that with our generally supportive audience and the level of frustration we often hear expressed about other news media in town, we are well on our way. ThisisReno’s goal is to both promote and challenge our community and our growth continues, which is very encouraging.