Thursday, January 10, 2008

BREAKING: The Sun Rises On Awesome New Site

Disclosure: I write a column for the Las Vegas Weekly and contribute regularly to Vegas Magazine, both of which are owned by the Las Vegas Sun's parent company, Greenspun Media Group.

You all know how unacceptable I find the Review-Journal's Web site. It's a disaster of epic proportions, with little indication of what editors find important and an offensive lag time on posting breaking news or updating it. It does a terrific disservice to the journalists working there and the fact that I've heard the editors don't "believe" in blogging reporters is especially backward. There's no way to focus on anything in particular, the stories are listed in no particular order and its functionality is modest. This is what the hot mess looked looks like today:

So it is with a terrific amount of glee that I observe the launch about 40 minutes ago of the new Las Vegas Sun site. Here is the debut screenshot:

Beautiful! It's clearly the hard work of a team of both JOURNALISTS and WEB DESIGNERS who figured out comfortable, visually pleasing fonts, logical navigation and an excellent framework for a promised expansion into more multimedia projects, blogs and the like. And I'm especially heartened by this line from the notice about the new site:

Constant updates. You’ll want to bookmark this site and come back several times a day. Sun writers will provide online-only breaking news in blogs ...

Sounds like they "get" it. Does anyone feel they've got to check the R-J site "several times a day"? Why, so you can find out what sort of "breaking news" the Runnin' Rebels have caused with their basketball scores?

Clearly there's more work to be done -- this letter promises that some video will be viewable on iPods but I can't find any podcast RSS feeds, and the heading for MULTIMEDIA is misspelled here. (Sorry, fellas - the site DOES say to point out mistakes!)

But even on this, the site is so much better than the R-J. The Most-Popular functions are, uh, the most popular functions on news sites because people like to know what other people find interesting. But while the Sun has this function on every single page, the R-J does not show theirs on the front page and you have to click on this tiny little "Most Popular" thing on other pages to get to a pop-up that looks like this:

For a long time, I've wondered about the accuracy of the R-J's Most Popular list, too, and what you see here is a case in point. Today's pop-up claims the most popular story of the whole MONTH is a piece from yesterday about Lake Las Vegas properties being sold. There's a major presidential primary in Nevada, the R-J coverage of which has been excellent, and folks around the world must be FLOODING both Vegas papers' sites with new traffic. So the sale of an off-Strip property is the most interesting thing they've got going? Really?

I haven't the time to dig much deeper right now, but on the surface it looks pretty nice. This is the sort of foresight that explains why I conclude in my Las Vegas Weekly column this week that the Greenspuns are my pick for the most powerful Nevadans. It's because more than anyone else, they understand the Internet, and that makes their media operations far more influential, global and powerful than what the other guys are doing. Others have similar civic, financial and political clout, but their media clout is what sets them apart. And the media these days is nothing if not digital.

In any event, congrats are in order. I encourage you all to take a gander and tell me what you find. Oh, and if you click on the screen shots, you can see what my bookmarks are. Yes, that's the Joy of Baking. Ha!


Dave in Chicago said...

that's really cool, steve. someone should hire you to advise them on this stuff. you really know your shit.

Roberta said...

I think the new Sun site is one of the best local newspaper web designs I've seen in a long time, and I read a lot of papers online. If it weren't for Norm, I'd never click on the RJ's pathetic page ever again!

Anonymous said...

man, you really know how to sock it to the R-J, don't you? A little tainted, though, with all your Greenspun connections... hmmm... real brave!

Jeff in OKC said...

OK, now can you tell me how to find your column on the Las Vegas Weekly site. I click on Newsmakers or something on the left and get your headshot. But the column listed is from October and says something like "Goodbye Hansie"?