A new rival entered Fallon more than a decade ago wanting to provide another voice to the Lahontan Valley.
After working with the Lahontan Valley News as a reporter and then editor, Anne Pershing oversaw the Fallon Star Press, a weekly Gannett publication that gave the community a second voice and avenue for local news and sports. She wanted to stay connected with the people in Fallon after serving so many years covering multiple beats, editing and delivering news on the leukemia cluster that struck this town nearly 20 years ago.
We knew this publication was coming but nothing more. Then the first issue hit the stands on a spring Friday. A 2,000-word feature on one of the high school teams written by Mike Houser, a crafty wordsmith who penned many features during his time with the Fallon Star Press.
My father and I knew what we were facing in the sports realm and instead of having to worry about competing with the Reno Gazette Journal over Fallon sports, a new challenger stepped into the ring and smacked us in the teeth. At that moment, I realized that we needed to step up our game and swing back.
As each week passed, Houser cranked out feature after feature. Add in radio broadcaster Larry Barker and Fallon resident John Grainer to the mix and the Fallon Star Press was a strong competitor that brought out the best in the LVN. Coverage on the Greenwave, as well as the youth sports and even Nevada basketball when it qualified for the NCAA Tournament, was in plenty.
The years passed and eventually the Fallon Star Press folded when the economy soured and the need for print continued to die down. Pershing, who led this impressive charge last decade, found a home with the RGJ in writing a senior column, never ceasing to tell stories about older Nevadans. They needed a voice and the call went to Pershing.
Pershing’s death last week has left a void in Nevada journalism and in the hearts of every reader she touched while writing for both the Fallon- and Reno-based newspapers.
I have many fond memories of Anne but her passion to come back to Fallon and establish another presence, another voice with the Fallon Star Press will stand out for many years to come. It created competition to get the best stories out to Fallon readers every week and made the sports departments more creative in delivering the news. We took advantage of Photoshop to create slick designs of several high school teams, including the football team on homecoming and then the “Cardiac Kids” when the Lady Wave basketball team prepared for the regional tournament.
I will miss Anne’s mentorship and confidence in a couple of teenagers.
I started out with the LVN while in eighth grade and joined my father to watch the Greenwave play the Wooster Colts. Camera in hand, he asked if I wanted to take photos and after the roll was developed, (yes, 35 mm color film) more than half of them turned out. My first photo of Aaron Lesue dodging Wooster defenders was published in 1998, officially beginning my journey into journalism.
Anne’s trust in my father was never questioned and she knew that the quality of sports journalism in Fallon wouldn’t be comprised. Trusting a teenager to help to cover high school games was gutsy, but no one doubted her confidence.
Two years later, I began writing while my brother, who was in seventh grade, started taking photos. Anne offered insight, as well, and along with my father, she helped me develop my raw skills. Competent, young and determined, my brother and I were off to a strong start in the newspaper business.
As the years rolled by, Pershing still kept in touch and inquired how we were doing. My brother traded professions during high school, but I stayed with journalism. I wanted to pursue my other interest – math – in college and fell several credits shy of completing that major when I realized journalism was my path.
After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, with a journalism degree, Anne was still there to help. Working with the RGJ, she invited me to come down and discuss my future and my goals. She introduced me to the sports department, including the editor, and would vouch for me if I wanted to work for the RGJ. Things didn’t work out for various reasons, but Anne never ceased to amaze with her support and dedication to journalism.
It’s been 18 years since I held that film camera for the first time, and I owe my start in journalism to Anne, who put her unquestioned trust in the right hands and continued to support my journey until her untimely passing.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.