By not going tabloid on the Danny Gans story, the Vegas media distinguished itself
By STEVE FRIESS
In New York and Los Angeles, when a major star drops dead of unknown causes, there is a repulsive ritual that takes place. A certain breed of journalist will begin a vigil outside the deceased’s residence, will rifle through their trash, will bribe all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons and will call up anyone and everyone even questionably related to the person for even the most unlikely comment.
In Las Vegas, when left to our own devices, we do things a little differently. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier about that.
Danny Gans’ death provided an intriguing case study of that difference because of his strange status as this massive, mega-wealthy star whose fame essentially ceased to exist beyond the county limits. As I wrote some weeks ago in this space, I was on the front lines of trying to get someone beyond Las Vegas to take interest after Gans’ wife found him unresponsive early on May 1.
The national press noted the death with a minimum of interest and then moved on, even as questions remained in the air about what killed the impressionist following an inconclusive autopsy. Even the tabloid media only dabbled in it vaguely, owing probably to paltry interest; PerezHilton.com’s few postings on the Gans matter drew just a couple dozen comments, most of them from people wondering who Gans was. A typical Perez post draws hundreds of responses.
This left the Las Vegas media to tackle the matter without the influence of outside forces. And so there was no vigil at the Gans household, nobody got bribed, and his widow and children were left to attend to their grief.
It’s not that journalists here didn’t want to know and report what had happened to Gans. It was that nothing we could report could be concrete, backed up by any data. Reporters were stuck in a holding pattern until the toxicology reports were completed, because absent of an official report by the scientists analyzing Gans’ remains, no amount of speculation could be credible or based in fact.
Oh sure, we could have traded in rumors. That’s undoubtedly what would have happened had Gans been a star whose death became a national obsession. But even then, it wouldn’t have been the legitimate media airing theories and conjecture, it would’ve been unrestrained talking heads on cable TV and some breathless tabloid hacks.
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