Monday, May 26, 2008

LasVegasSun.Com's Arsenal Gets Even Better

Wow. I know that Review-Journal publisher Sherm Frederick thinks that the gorgeous web operation for the Las Vegas Sun is a silly waste of money and puzzles as to why the Greenspuns are pouring so much money into an operation that actually has lower traffic now than before it launched its sensational redesign. High quality and industry respect -- was named best newspaper website for a site of fewer than 1 million unique visitors a month earlier this month by trade publication Editor & Publisher -- are nice, Sherm might say, but what's the point if the eyeballs aren't looking your way?

It's not an unreasonable argument. It's just a short-sighted one. And as someone rooting intensely for the Sun's efforts to reward those who have risked so much and worked so hard for it, two recent developments are worth noting:

1. UNBELIEVABLE NEW CONTENT. Folks, you've gotta check this out. The LasVegasSun.Com now has this interactive historical map of the Vegas regionwhere you pick the date and it will show you, say, the Strip as it was at that time. Each resort or place is clickable and provides history. And there's so much more here, including an expertly produced, TV-quality 11-part decade-by-decade documentary about Las Vegas, implosion videos, hundreds of old Sun stories from the archives that illustrate various historical moments and audio testimonials from the likes of the late Benny Binion and late Sam Boyd. The depth of this feature is breathtaking, with more promised to come. Make some time to play around with it.

2. EVEN MORE TOP-SHELF TALENT. Rob Curley, the vice president for product development at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, long regarded as the industry's leading Web news-site visionary, is leaving those environs for the LasVegasSun.Com. Read this wonderful piece on him from Fast Company. On his own blog on Saturday, Curley wrote that the Sun is "easily one of the most interesting local media operations in the nation." For a city where no newspaper has ever even come close to winning a Pulitzer, that's pretty exciting. Curley pointed out Greenspun's vast influence in a long list of different media products, including the Las Vegas Weekly (where I have a column, of course) and Las Vegas One.

I don't know what the Greenspuns have in mind as they pour all these resources into these operations. Maybe they just want to serve the community with quality news and information services, as they've been doing at a hefty financial loss for decades? Nobody has ever accused the Greenspuns of being totally selfless, but this is a family of billionaires who didn't get that way by making bad business decisions. They can't be losing money by accident.

I can't answer that. But I can express some gratitude for it. I love the Internet as much as I love great journalism and I appreciate the effort to make the experience as cutting edge, informative and smart as the technology allows. So while the Review-Journal's visually miserable site has finally discovered blogs (and acts like it's some wild, wacky new frontier) but still hasn't heard of RSS feeds or indexing those blogs on Google's Blogsearch, the Sun is dazzling the entire industry.

Somewhere in some dark, sad corner on Bonanza Road, Sherm is cackling "Fools!" as he counts his money. Somewhere, no doubt, without wi-fi.


Anonymous said...


Are you sure the Greenspuns operate the Sun at a loss? I'd heard some details on the JOA from R-J insiders, and it seemed like the Greenspuns were getting good coin, along with the cost savings associated with not paying to maintain a printing press, ad sales staff and the like? The question doesn't reflect either way on the merits of the papers' Web sites; it's just more a question from being curious.

Does anyone from Bonanza Road or Corporate Circle Drive have insight on this?


i have to believe they're operating at a loss because i know they sure were losing serious money when the Sun was a full-service newspaper. They may be receiving a share of the ad revenue, but it is modest and yet the paper has a substantial staff having not had massive layoffs after the merged product emerged, and then they keep hiring several high-priced editors from major publications. Greenspun Media may see profits from its niche properties, but the Las Vegas Sun itself? Highly doubtful. Not to mention LasVegasSun.Com has very, very little advertising. I doubt the two entities are sharing their Web ad revenues in any way at all.