The GOAT is dead. Nevada lost its greatest journalist over the weekend. The Greatest Of All Time.
The GOAT’s future was written in the stars at his 1948 birth: He was a Capricorn.
Tribune alumnus and Reno News & Review News Editor Dennis Myers was removed from life support last Monday. He suffered a brain stem stroke at his Sparks apartment over the weekend and was braindead when admitted to Renown Regional Medical Center.
He was “discharged” from “patient” to “organ donor” status sometime last Saturday and was kept alive to facilitate organ donation. The system found a liver recipient last Monday.
The exact time and date of whatever may be defined as his death will thus be known only to God. He takes with him a peerless repository of Nevada history and journalistic institutional memory.
He was the best that ever was. I’ll put his work up against anyone’s since statehood. That’s saying something. But Mark Twain only worked here for about three years before heading for the border with the law on his ass.
Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bowles was blown up in his car in a Gomorrah South parking garage for working on Mafia stories, which puts him in the top five.
The late, great Ned Day, an inaugural member of the Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames, also had has life threatened many times back when the Chicago mob and Tony “The Ant” Spilotro ran the Las Vegas Strip. (See the Martin Scorsese fictionalized version with DeNiro and Pesci, “Casino.)
Dennis combined a matchless hat trick of talent. He never sought big money, just like Day. He was absolutely incorruptible, enjoyed a reverence for history, a carried a peerless institutional memory. And he could synthesize it flawlessly by deadline.
His extensively researched summary (with a little help from the Barbwire) of Assemblymember Ira Hansen’s, R-Sparks, long record of racist and bigoted Tribune columns fueled the Reno-Sparks NAACP’s successful national campaign that caused Hansen’s 2014 withdrawal as speaker-designate of Nevada’s lower house. Myers was quoted everywhere from the Maui News to The New York Times and The Guardian of London/UK.
Myers and his crew of RNR journalists were awarded the inaugural NAACP Eddie Scott/Bertha Woodard Human Rights Advocacy Award in 2015, the organization’s highest honor.
He was a consistent and admirable advocate for the rights of minorities, workers and women. We will remember him at the NAACP’s 74th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Grand Sierra-Reno.
All public issues were fair game no matter their source. Myers was as consistent a critic as any conservative when it came to Nevada’s rampant corporate welfare proliferation and increasingly regressive taxation. He was a champion of the rights of workers, unions, minorities and women. His cover story in the current Reno News & Review critiques the female majority of the 2019 Nevada Legislature, the first in Nevada or U.S. history. He is unsparing in his criticism lamenting what might have been.
Myers was honored with a trove of state and national awards during a long journalistic career and this month was nominated for the Nevada Press Association Hall of Fame. He will become the first journalist inducted into the César Chávez Nevada Labor Hall of Fame at the next Nevada Chávez Day, March 31, 2020.
As of today, Dennis and fellow Tribune alumnus, photographer Don Dondero, join the Ivins HOF.
Day died of a heart attack on vacation in a Hawaii hotel pool. Bowles, you know about. Dennis also suffered his share. He was hospitalized with a major loss of blood a few years ago because of an undetected ulcer. His home was destroyed by a major flood. His only son died at age 47. Sometimes he didn’t even own a car.
He was fired by KTVN TV-2 as a sacrificial lamb to get the Chevy dealer’s ad budget back. He had to spend all his retirement savings before he could find another job. See “Pay Per News” in the July 25, 2002, News & Review and “Thou Shalt Censor Thyself,” the Barbwire of January 6, 2015.
It’s still going on. A top gun Reno Gazette-Journal staffer told me that not a week goes by that the local Chevy store doesn’t threaten to cancel ads because somebody sees an article they don’t like.
“Don’t touch car dealers” was a standing (if not explicit) order Dennis learned in his TV days.
Ditto with the Carano casino jocks at the Reno paper.
Dennis gave Nevada almost all of his life since age 5. You may read my 1,500-word obituary of my friend at NevadaLabor.com, a half-century of impeccable journalism in the public interest.
I challenge anyone to compare. Time to have one helluva party. Watch NevadaLabor.com/
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his comments are strictly hiw own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.