Brian Sandford: Photo went ‘viral’ here and afar for different reasons

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of Shannon Litz’s photo of a deer jumping in front of Gov. Brian Sandoval, it’s worth more than 34,000 page views on Facebook.

Shannon knew the governor would be walking to work in recognition of Nevada Moves Day, in which students are encouraged to walk to school. She had her camera perfectly placed when she snapped a shot that she quickly posted on Facebook.

When an item quickly gains popularity online, the popular term is “going viral.” And that’s exactly what happened with Shannon’s shot, which racked up the “likes,” page views and shares at a pace we haven’t seen since posting a story about Glenn Lucky’s remarkable life last summer.

Just how viral was it? As of Friday morning, the photo had been viewed 34,526 times, had generated more than 20 comments and had been shared 288 times. Among the commenters was the governor himself.

As we were assembling Thursday’s paper, we knew we had something special to play up; the ever-growing online numbers Wednesday bore that out. Swift Design Desk Supervisor Emily Stott developed a design that allowed us to showcase the shot, using big typography, moving the side-of-the-page teasers and expanding the photo to cover a good 35 percent of the page.

The Associated Press, Yahoo News, NBC and a TV news station in Reno all ended up using the shot (we were happy to give permission). It’s easy to understand why out-of-towners would appreciate it for its face-value quirkiness.

Facebook comments on the photo and feedback we’ve received show that Carsonites like it for a different reason. It reminds us of how different our capital city is from most others — both in that the governor can casually stroll to work unbothered, and that he’d have a close encounter with wildlife along the way.

We’ve enjoyed hearing — and seeing — your feedback. I promise that if we can ever get a shot of a bear or bighorn sheep jumping in the governor’s path, we’ll play it even bigger in print.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the letters we receive from students in far-off states who want to learn about Nevada as part of a class project. One such letter is at the bottom of this page.

In that column, I listed a couple of the letters and invited readers to send Nevada facts and artifacts to the students who wrote them. Did you? If so, I’d be interested to hear what you sent. It might be part of a future column.

In case you need those addresses, you can find the column in question at

Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at


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