This is the seventh installment of our Focus Forward email membership campaign. We’re trying to add 100 members by the end of the year. Will you help us build a better news landscape for as little as $5 a month? Become a member today.


Yesterday we introduced you to some of our reporters. If you’re still digesting turkey and have some time, hear from more of the people who make our work possible.


Robyn Murray has been copy/news editor at The Reader since 2019. A former news director at KVNO News in Omaha, Robyn has reported for National Public Radio, Public Radio International, WNYC and WBUR. Her print work has appeared in USA Today and Business Day in Johannesburg, South Africa. Robyn now works in nonprofit communications and gets her journalism fix from The Reader, where she also contributes the periodic column DIS|PLACE. Robyn received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and her master’s in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
How have you seen your work make an impact?
As an editor, I get to work with The Reader‘s amazing team of writers and journalists, who are dedicated to investigating the issues that impact people’s lives, giving voice to underrepresented communities and amplifying Omaha’s phenomenal creative community. My job is to make sure their work comes across clearly, fairly and accurately. The impact of my work is our readers know we take the truth seriously and they can trust we’ve done our due diligence.
What’s one thing you’d want to tell readers about us? Or about why their support matters?:
The Reader has been around for nearly 30 years in Omaha, and that is solely due to the passion and commitment of, first, the indefatigable John Heaston, and second, the writers, designers and editors who believe in the power and importance of local journalism. But we can’t do it without the support of our readers. With you, we can keep The Reader a strong, alternative voice and fearless truth-teller in our community. 


B.J. Huchtemann is a senior contributing writer and columnist for The Reader. She’s written for the paper since 1996. Her “Hoodoo” column covers blues, Americana and other types of roots music with an emphasis on the value of live music performances. She is a 2015 recipient of the Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. She received a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. In addition to her work in music journalism, she also has extensive experience in communication, advertising, media and television production.
How have you seen your work make an impact?
I’m fortunate to have local and regional artists say that my review or write-up helped them build an audience or even encouraged them to keep doing what they are doing. I’ve been told more than a few times that I “get it” by artists and that they appreciate that I make the effort to get things right in this era of hurry-up-and-post social media.
What’s one thing you’d want to tell readers about us? Or about why their support matters?:
The writers for The Reader write because they care about what they write about, they care about the scene, they want to see their immediate areas of interest and the broader community flourish. They want others to experience and share their passion and joy. Supporting independent journalism with a subscription is one simple but impactful way you can show that this writing matters to you.


When the cinematic majesty of Blade II was unleashed upon the world in March of 2002, so were Ryan Syrek’s opinions on movies. Over the last nearly two decades, he has written thousands of reviews and endured at least as many insults for those reviews. He isn’t produce but is a certified Rotten Tomato (critic), and his work has been syndicated at The Boulder Weekly. He intends to help establish a Midwest Film Critic Society but has also been saying that for a long time now.
How have you seen your work make an impact?
Although my work errs mostly on the side of entertaining and not informing, a few films I have championed seemed to benefit from the attention. In just the past few years, the filmmakers behind Out of Omaha and The Garden Left Behind reached out to thank me for helping their work find a broader audience. That made my heart do the Grinch grow, at least tripling in size. Oh, and even negative reviews can do fun things for the community, as genuine and healthy discussions about film can come from a grumpus making fun of things, apparently…
What’s one thing you’d want to tell readers about us? Or about why their support matters?: 
From engaging in actual, meaningful dialogue about the arts to news coverage that is in service to the community first (and not a bottom line), we are different from other local outlets in that we are trying to make a difference. It’s a different difference or a difference different, whichever you’d prefer. Look, nobody got into art criticism or journalism to get rich. This is about a passion to improve our home and to enrich the lives of those around us. The only way to keep doing what we do is through support for the community that we legitimately love. This is neither begging for money nor an attempt to shame you into forking over hard-earned cash. This is just us standing before you and saying we’d like to keep doing what we do, and we could use your help to do that.


These writers and editors did an amazing job this last year, but only because of the support of our members. In 2022, they want to Focus Forward and give you the stories you need to navigate our new normal and build a better Omaha.

Our goal is to add 100 new members by the end of the year. Will you be one?

Sincerely,

John Heaston


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