Mike Higdon’s printable resume

I am a change warrior and a creative thinker. I enjoy conceptualizing projects and then making things. I enjoy disruption and often am the one disrupting. It means I will tend move to new projects quickly. It means I understand the difference between effective and efficient. The journey to completing a task or meeting a goal or conquering a challenge is more important to me than the result. The journey is where I learn. The result is the inevitable and obvious outcome of a proper journey. The journey ensures the outcome.

Lists are nice ways of describing information. Here are some journeys for your enjoyment:

  • Help run the Reno Storytellers Project, an oral storytelling event created by the USA Today Network
  • Started my own niche news site, DrinkableReno.com, to cover beer and spirits in Northern Nevada.
  • Planned a six-course beer dinner at Heritage Restaurant in the Whitney Peak Hotel by bringing together six breweries with six unique beers in one place. It sold out at 75 people.
  • Made a city-wide game called the Great Reno Whiskey Hunt. Folks visited seven bars, drink seven unique whiskeys and collected seven whiskey cards. Whoever collected all seven got into Barrels & Bites, a Boys & Girls Club event for free.
  • Redesigned 23 newspapers with a standardized design for a central design desk at Swift Communications
  • Started teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Held three jobs at once as an adult, while married
  • Completed management training and seven habits of highly affective people training
  • Own a dog
  • Started reading Harry Potter and almost finished it
  • Managed an editorial content system for an entire company
  • Graduated from college with a degree in general studies and minors in journalism and political science
  • Can put “worked for NASA” on my resume

Employment History and Experience

Reno Gazette-Journal | Reno, Nev. | July 2015 – Present

City Life Reporter

  • My beat focuses on the intersection of cultural change, redevelopment, gentrification in Reno, younger communities, pop culture, craft beer and spirits, hipsters and trends.
  • I am the community’s leading voice on these topics.
  • I focus entirely on acquiring new readers in the 25-45-year-old age group, researching and trying new delivery methods, topics and platforms as one of the top branded reporters at the RGJ.
  • I am the first “city life” reporter in the USA Today Network, a collection of 109-publications.
  • I reach at least 60,000 people per month with my stories, photos, videos and interactive content.
  • I connect with the community through storytelling and engagement (social media, on camera, forums, community leadership, etc.).
  • I am an expert photographer, videographer, writer, social media marketer and small event manager.
  • I’ve published photos, videos and stories in newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, Reno Magazine.
  • When national comedians or other naysayers attack Reno, I defend the city’s gritty culture with humorous hot takes.
  • I develop and grow my personal brand, the brands of colleagues and the RGJ’s brand on social media and in real life.
  • My social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) have a combined 8,500 first-connection people.
  • I coach and mentor new journalists.
  • I am part of a leadership team that hosts and produces the Reno Storytellers Project, a quarterly oral storytelling event with 100 attendees per show.
  • I covered Burning Man in 2018, generating more than 400,000 page views for the RGJ in 30 days with stories, photo galleries, videos and 360-degree photos.
  • I am an FAA certified drone pilot and will be trained at Virginia Tech and certified by the USA Today Network by the end of 2019.


Drinkable Reno | Reno, Nev. | Feb. 2014 – July 2015

Editor and Publisher

Manage web publication. Write between one and three stories a week ranging from large business features including original photography to press releases on local event. Manage all social media. Edit contributor posts. Manage in-person promotions. Attend industry events.


Swift Communications | Carson City, Nev. | June 2009 – July 2015

Digital Content Strategist June 2015 – July 2015

Lead or participate in company-wide newsroom projects or initiatives, such as audience development, social media best practice training and video. Develop topic and editorial content direction and story beats to help publications connect with passionate audiences and develop new revenue streams. Evaluate content tools, for example, storytelling techniques, hardware, software or platforms. Training staff on best practices for operating these tools and collaborating with others in Swift on new and improved ways to reach audiences. Work with web developers to implement tools.

Editorial Project Specialist, Jan. 2013 – June 2015

Lead or participate in company-wide newsroom projects or initiatives, such as audience development, social media expectations and video. Lead editorial development of content management system for all six publishing companies, spanning six states, including 250 newsroom employees. Standardized the design of 22 daily and non-daily newspapers in a company-wide redesign. Work with Swift Digital to develop and share web publishing best practices across Swift. Develop innovative work flows for different newsrooms and provide system training. Test CMS and Adobe Creative Suite upgrades and provide training and documentation. Consult and lead editorial redesigns and workflow changes. Train and develop staff as it relates to all the above.

News Designer, June 2010 – Dec. 2012

Developed centralized news design team. Worked with team to design eight newspapers a week. Helped develop centralized newsroom concept in Sierra Nevada Media Group on the Swift “Innovation Team.” Maintained design templates. Converted design templates, libraries and style from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign before becoming Editorial System Administrator.

Ad Designer, June 2009 – June 2010

Designed advertisements for local newspaper customers. Photographed food and product for special advertisements. Designed special sections.


University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism | Reno, Nev. | Aug. 2013 – Present


Part-time faculty teaching JOUR 208: Media Production II, a video-focused class required in the core curriculum of the Reynold School of Journalism.


Freelance | Reno, Nev. | Jan. 2008 – Dec. 2012

Photographer, Designer

Work for University of Nevada, Reno, Las Vegas Sun, Playboy.com and private interests writing, photographing and designing for print and online.


The Poynter Institute | St. Petersburg, Fla. | Sept. 2008 – Sept. 2009

Poynter Fellow

Attended Poynter College for Young Journalists to learn new media methods with Poynter faculty. Awarded at SND Vegas.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) | Reno, Nev. | Feb. 2009–May 2009

Grant Assistant

Used Adobe Flash to develop a journalism game based on Lunar colonization while providing feedback to faculty members of an experimental interdisciplinary minor in Game Theory.


The Nevada Sagebrush | Reno, Nev. | Aug. 2005 – Nov. 2008

Arts & Entertainment Editor, Design Editor, Public Editor

Invent new forms of journalism to enrich the university community using social-networked news. In charge of public projects, such as hold public forums about university budget or political issues. Redesigned the weekly college newspaper in 2007. Responsible for the visual appeal and consistency of the paper. Managed the features section in 2005-2006.


The Indianapolis Star | Indianapolis, Ind. | June 2008-Aug. 2008

Pulliam Fellow – Visuals

Designed weekly magazine (Indy.com), metro, A1 and graphics. Helped Indy.com staff understand the importance of social-networked news. Beta tested and brainstormed with Innovation & Development department about social-networked news.


The Courier-Journal | Louisville, Ky. | May 2007-Aug. 2007


Rotated between news, sports, features. Budgeted and designed full sections and covers. Worked closely with editors to make a daily, three-edition deadline.


Nevada Small Business Development Center | Reno, Nev. | July 2006-July 2007

Graphic Designer, Photographer

Designed advertisements, promotional post cards and flyers. Took photos in different parts of Nevada to be used for Web site and other collateral.


The Maynard Institute | Reno, Nev. | May 2006-June 2006

Reporter, Photographer, Paginator

Worked with various professional editors to create stories, photos and lay out pages for class of professional copy editors.


University of Nevada, Reno class of 2009

Bachelor of General Studies in the Public and Journalism
Minors in Journalism and Political Science
Conferred by the dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism. My general studies degree mixes the study of political participation with a public-motivated theory of journalism. The degree is made up of independent studies on journalism’s role in the community and political science.


  • 2016 Influencer of the Year awarded by Reno-Tahoe American Marketers Association
  • Multiple yearly Nevada Press Association awards for photos, writing and design
  • 2014 Swift Communications Innovation of the Year
  • 2011 Nevada Press Association Best Infographic and Best Illustration
  • 2010 Nevada Press Association Best Multi-Color Advertisement
  • 2009 Newspaper Association of America Foundation News Challenge fellowship
  • 2009 Poynter Fellowship
  • 2008 Associated Collegiate Press First Place Infographic Design of the Year
  • Fellow winner of ACP Pacemaker Award for The Nevada Sagebrush
  • 2008 The Intern competition
  • 2008 Pulliam Fellowship at The Indianapolis Star
  • 2006-2007 Student Society for News Design Non-Daily Designer of the Year
  • A fellow winner of 2006-2007 SSND Overall Best Designed Non-Daily Newspaper for The Nevada Sagebrush
  • Various SSND individual page awards


  • Invited to speak at SND Vegas 2008 about:
  • Conversational Design: using page design, graphic and multimedia to start conversations and connect with a community
  • Young Voices panel: using social networking to enhance the connection between readers and news