Olivia Ali explains the importance of Nevada Sagebrush for UNR students

Sydney Fischer
4 min readApr 15, 2020

Editor of 126-year-old publication looks to the future

Q and A by Sydney Fischer, written 02/22/2020.

Sitting in the Nevada Sagebrush newspaper’s office with its California-born editor-in-chief, one thing becomes clear: Olivia Ali, knows what her student readers read, and she celebrates the articles for students, staff, parents, and alumni of Nevada’s land-grant university. It is investigative reporting and breaking news that keeps students reading an old-fashioned college newspaper.

Ali is one of the many editors-and-chiefs that have led the newspaper in its 126 years history and a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in journalism with a minor in history. It has created a community demonstrating understanding of relevant news and how this news is consumed by audiences at large.

Q: What are the most popular types of articles among UNR students, and why are so appealing?

A: Breaking News and Campus Investigations are the most popular. Breaking News is popular since we have the information and most other sources don’t, and they are often hot topics that grab people’s attention. Investigative stories are also hot topics that can be seen sometimes as “scandalous”, such as fraternities on campus.

“We have support from Journalism school faculty, advisors, and resources such as an alumni network.”

Q: Who do you believe is your target audience for print and online consumption, and do the audiences differ?

A: A lot of our readership does happen to be parents and older alumni as they tend to keep in touch with online consumption, such as Facebook. I just had a meeting with our webmaster who said our main audience is 25–35 year olds following with 19–24 year olds. Ultimately, we aim for students, but sometimes consumption ends up being by parents and alumni.

Q: When and where are the most common areas or times that students read your articles, and does this affect the way Sagebrush produces articles?

A: Noon to one is popular along with the evening, as we post our multi-media posts on Thursday evenings when people are beginning to wind down at night. We’ve seen our news coverage get more traction earlier or in the middle of the week, while our opinion and entertainment articles tend to get more attention during the weekend.

Q: Do you believe online consumption is more popular? Do you believe Sagebrush would ultimately drift away from printed articles as a result of this?

A: I think online consumption is more popular with our readers in today’s age, as our social media channels to our website. I don’t foresee that happening for a while, because we are self-funded through advertisement sales. These sales are put towards our printed articles, and our digital ads don’t sell as well as our print ads do. Many of our advertisers are long-term and gravitate towards print ads.


Q: Is Sagebrush more recognized for print or online consumption and why?

A: I would say print because we started and continue as a print paper. People often see the print product, and we ultimately frame our weeks by when we will go to print the papers. People usually go to online consumption when looking for a specific article.

Q: Is there any competition in regards to other campus news organizations such as Insight or the Reynolds Sandbox? If needed, what do you believe Sagebrush would do to prevent this?

A: Sagebrush and Insight have two different audiences and methods as they publish around 40 pages once a semester and we publish eight pages once a week. They tend to be more long-form with features and entertainment, whereas ours tends to be shorter, breaking news articles. I believe the Reynolds Sandbox is our largest competitor at the moment, because they are a newsroom that’s also online through the Journalism school. However, they tend to do more features and investigative information that is more in-depth while ours tend to be shorter and fact-based. I think the largest difference is we take a public safety and book knowledge approach while they take a more investigative approach.


Q: Do you believe eventually Sagebrush or the Reynolds Sandbox will draw attention to all the students, making the other newspaper disappear from student interest?

A: I don’t think so, although Reynold’s Sandbox has tried to bring in competition before despite Sagebrush having been around for 126 years. It is a possibility since newsrooms in the Journalism school have disappeared overtime as people graduate. However, the Sagebrush is so well established through ASUN and the UNR community.

For any further questions or concerns, Olivia Ali can be contacted at her email oali@sagebrush.unr.edu, or her phone number (916) 747–6730.

Quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity.



Sydney Fischer

Junior at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in political science and journalism.