(Chuck Muth) – This isn’t an obituary, but the patient is on life support.
The patient is the Nevada Independent, an online news blog that’s been run into the ground by liberal blubber-blogger Jon Ralston, the poster child for the term “insufferable ass.”
Ralston – who’s either quit or been fired from just about every major news organization in the state – is no journalist. He’s a liberal propagandist obsessed with spewing “fake news” against the conservatives he loathes with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns (h/t Diane Chambers).
Five years ago he hooked up with Elizabeth Thompson to resurrect the Nevada News Bureau, which I founded in 2009 and spun off to her two years later. She’d become unhappy with the conservative editorial perspective of the original publication and decided the way to go was “mainstream.”
Thompson (then Elizabeth Crum) subsequently lost the financial support of the conservative donors who funded the non-profit news organization’s start-up. The publication ultimately shut down and went into hibernation.
After Ralston got dumped from his last television gig in 2016, he teamed up with “E!!” to resurrect the publication – with financial support from a number of big liberal donors – and renamed it the Nevada Independent.
Ralston portrayed himself as some kind of pioneer in the arena of non-profit journalism, but in reality was just a jonny-come-lately. He was no trail-blazer. He was a self-righteous knock-off artist.
To the publication’s credit, it did hire some talented reporters – real journalists – who endeavored to treat news stories objectively and professionally. But they could never wash off the stink associated with being linked to Ralston’s conservative-hating wokeism.
Things started out swimmingly. In January 2017, Ralston and E!! – in P.T. Barnumesque fashion – relaunched the “Indy,” purportedly as “an online news source we hope will forever change how news is delivered in the state and perhaps become a model for others.”
If the model is failure, they got their wish.
The failure comes primarily from Ralston’s lack of marketing sense and basic business skills. His sales pitch was that the Indy was going to “change the face of journalism in Nevada and establish new paradigms for nonprofit, community-supported news organizations.”
Because who among us hasn’t gone to bed at night praying for someone to establish new paradigms for nonprofit, community-supported news organizations?
I mean, even kids were writing letters to Santa asking for an online subscription to a blog that would forever change how news is delivered in the state.
But like any good snake-oil salesman, Ralston was able to dupe some donors into believing the Indy was the greatest thing since sliced bread and that he was the modern-day incarnation of William Randolf Hearst.
Then COVID hit.
Or, rather, then-Gov. Steve Sisolak hit with his statewide Sisolak Shutdown which dried up the discretionary money of businesses that funded the Indy’s operation – including Ralston’s and Thompson’s combined salaries of almost $400,000 per YEAR.
I don’t think the two understand the meaning of “non-profit.”
Indeed, they treated their donors’ money as if it was in a bottomless cookie jar. But after the Sisolak Shutdown did its damage, Ralston’s grubby little fingers could only scrape out crumbs.
So on March 1, 2021, he published a self-serving woe-is-me blog post where he whimpered that 2020 was supposed to be the Indy’s “breakout year” in which it would become “financially sustainable” but instead became a “survival year.”
He lamented that he had to borrow money from his bro’ “just to make payroll” and tell employees he was “cutting their salaries by 25 percent in an effort to stay afloat.”
He whipped out the ol’ Thesaurus – his bible for using big words to prove how much smarter he is than everyone else – to describe how his staff soldiered on “while processing as human beings the impacts on their own lives – the claustrophobia, the agoraphobia, the ennui. It has been so enervating for so many.”
He then specifically thanked liberal activist and time-share king Stephen Cloobeck – as well as taxpayers ($200,000 in COVID bailout bucks) – for saving his bacon and allowing the Indy to weather the storm.
By 2022, everything seemed to be peaches and cream again. According to the Indy’s tax return (the latest available), it raised over $3 million – including almost $700,000 from a grant by the American Journalism Project.
But mismanagement and a misreading of the market – is the public really clamoring for yet another liberal news blog? – has taken its toll on the Indy yet again.
On Friday afternoon, Ralston whipped out his Thesaurus and inked a new-and-improved woe-is-me blog post…
“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.”
In fact, Thompson herself – under suspicious circumstances and probably seeing the writing on the wall – abandoned this sinking ship several weeks ago.
Of those still onboard and searching for a lifeboat, Ralston announced that “Managers are taking a 20 percent cut for three months, and staffers are absorbing a 10 percent cut for the quarter.”
To paraphrase the late great economist Milton Friedman, if you put Jon Ralston in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.
Jon Boy went on to note that over the last couple of months he mimicked a Hillary Clinton stunt by going on a “fact-finding tour” around the state “trying to gauge how people view what we do.”
Hell, I could have saved him a lot of time and money if he’d just given me a jingle!
Fact is, aside from his liberal cult followers and DC hero worshippers, nobody gives a rat’s arse. There’s just no market for yet another liberal news blog any more than a market for liberal talk radio.
He’s trying to sell surfboards to Eskimos.
The unfortunate thing is that some of the reporters who work for or have worked for the Indy are truly talented professionals who have hitched their wagons to a falling star. If they’re smart, they’re already looking for an escape pod.
While the death of the Nevada Independent isn’t imminent, it’s inevitable.
Critics in the media industry tell me Jonny Jihad’s big mistake has been in over-hiring, over-paying, and over-hyping the Ralston Rag. But Ralston’s main problem is that he suffers from Little Man Disease.
He honestly believes he was destined for greatness in the Washington, DC or New York media markets and seethes with envy when someone he perceives as his lesser lands a gig in the big show while he remains stuck in this little one-horse Podunk town.
How DARE the gods of mainstream media not bow before his magnificence, acknowledge his superiority, and allow him to fulfill his destiny?
But do you know what really grates his cheese?
This H.L. Menken wannabe has an Ivy League bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan – while I only have a high school diploma.
Yet I’m a better writer than he is.
No wonder he looks like he bit into a lemon all the time!
It’s not over for the Indy yet, but the fat lady is clearing her pipes.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Jon Ralston is known for stirring the pot, so to speak, and he is quite frequently wrong. He has no clue…” – Democrat Nevada Attorney General A.Ron Ford, Nevada Week, 8/2/23
“I don’t understand much about politics…” – Liberal blubber-blogger Jon Ralston, 1/2/20
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.