Amy Kingsley of Las Vegas CityLife tries this week with a lengthy piece on Greenspun Media Group, its supposedly unrewarded risks in the New Media space for the Las Vegas Sun and conflict on Corporate Circle between imported, high-priced Web guru Rob Curley and the traditional news staff. It is a good read and adds some intriguing detail to the decisions that led to the decimation of the staff that I chronicled and catalogued in December.
Kingsley is a terrific reporter -- I've personally complimented CityLife Editor Steve Sebelius for that hire in the past -- and she puts in a noble effort. But she fails because she didn't give the whole picture and she probably couldn't because, well, the whole picture could include some unflattering things about the company that pays her wages, Stephens Media. I mean, look at what's advertised directly above her story on the Web:
You can read the piece here and I do recommend it. One thing that accurately comes across is the blinding arrogance of Rob Curley, the Web wunderkind who took credit for revolutionizing the Internet operations of Newsweek, the Washington Post and a paper in Lawrence, Kansas. I was a cheerleader for him when he arrived but after an initial, pretty redesign, such little things like an effective search engine on LasVegasWeekly.Com and other issues made me wonder if he cared about the little things that make a site user-friendly.
Kingsley convincingly makes the case that his past successes may have been short-lived and the result of circumstances of timing and opportunity, not vision. Plus, Curley comes across as churlish with a quote like: "The only thing I love more than journalism is capitalism." From the looks of the expensive embarrassment that was 702.tv, he's failed in Vegas on both fronts.
[Aside: Curley re-tweeted today the Poynter Institute's pick-up of Kingsley's piece, which is strange given how badly he comes off in it.]
All that said, to really get where GMG is these days, you need to put it in the context of its total media ecosystem. That's an ecosystem that includes one of the most dysfunctional news websites in the nation, ReviewJournal.Com, and a main newspaper, the R-J, that has somehow lost circulation during the era of one of the biggest population growth spurts in U.S. history. If we're ready to call Curley a failure in Vegas, then first we need to know the web traffic of both papers' websites, which Kingsley does not provide. Somehow I bet if it looked good for the R-J, she would've had no trouble getting it and comparing it to the Sun.
She also has a passage in there about the Sun's failed web video efforts but doesn't bother to mention that the R-J hired ex-weatherman Nate Tannenbaum to do a laughable and technologically ridiculous daily newscast. I don't know how many plays it's getting on the LVRJ.Com site, but today's episode has been on YouTube for 21 hours and has enjoyed 4 hits. FOUR. Two of which were me looking for a good moment to shoot this screencap:
If you click on it, you'll see that the episode from two days ago has a whopping 27 plays. And here's the entire history of RJTV on YouTube:
You know what has had more hits than a month's worth of RJTV episodes? This:
One more thing. The illustrations that went with Kingsley's story were very weird. This, for instance, was for Curley: