Friday, December 17, 2010

Media: Of Righthaven, Cosmo, the Sun & Me

Some stuff to take note of as I huddle behind the laptop on a rainy Friday afternoon at The Beat:

* Righthaven. Remember when a certain "media critic" suggested that the Review-Journal and Stephens Media might rein in their copyright infringement lawsuit frenzy because they dropped a few of their weakest cases around the time of their regime change? And remember when I said it wasn't so? Well, it looks like they're not only not stopping but they continue to take their direction from... me! Back on Oct. 3, I started them a list of the major media outlets ripping off their graphic for the Vdara Death Ray story. And now they've sued 10 sites over just that, although in true ham-handed Righthaven fashion they're the lightweights (without legal departments?) like Flick & Tea rather than wealthy players like Gawker.Com, or even AtlanticWire.Com, whose parent just announced a $1.8 million profit largely from its web operations. Righthaven is going after a biggie -- Drudge Report -- on behalf of the Denver Post, by the way, as the business model expands or metastasizes, depending on your point of view. This is not, of course, the first time Righthaven has pursued a mark thanks to me. Remember this lady?

* ¡Hola!, Periodista. Meanwhile, have you ever heard of...

LasVegasSol.Com? Me either until a few minutes ago when I was grabbing the above links. Turns out, it's the LasVegasSun.Com, only in March 2009 they also started using LasVegasSol.Com. It appears that any URL from the Sun can be swapped with its Spanish URL counterpart. I just can't figure out why. It's not as though they have a Spanish-language mirror site that I can find. Baffling. Also, you know what they don't own, but which would actually make a lot of Vegas sense?

* Cosmo Crapola: I've dialed back my critique of specific reporters lately because I know I come off as shrill and arrogant. It's not easy to strike that balance, particularly in a thin-skinned city where even epically insecure powerhouses who dish out incessant attacks on people take criticism very personally. But today I need to take aim directly at recently installed R-J gaming reporter Chris Sieroty over this travesty:

It's a second-day reaction story after Cosmopolitan's Wednesday opening. Yesterday, I lamented the rah-rah headline declaring the opening "smooth" when there were many, many reports of significant problems. That was bad, but this is simply unforgivable because by the second day, there's no excuse to not be aware of -- and challenge Cosmo brass -- about widespread reports of snafus.

Sieroty opens his piece: "Analysts, casino executives and politicians emerged from opening night ... with generally positive impressions... ." Notice anyone missing from his laundry list? Like, uh, people who stayed at the fucking place? Customers? It was not difficult to find blog and Twitter traffic about delayed rooms, technology outages, slow restaurant service, people locked in stairwells and much more.

This is my greatest complaint about gaming-industry journalism, that my colleagues seem uninterested in what real tourists and customers have to say. And it's never in history been easier to get that perspective, to interact with those people. Sieroty could have put out a Tweet saying, "Hey everyone, what'd you think of Cosmo? Anybody hear of problems?"

Which brings me to the other issue with this piece. His gauge for assessments of Cosmo are Oscar Goodman, Steve Wynn, Bill Lerner and David Schwartz. Dr. Dave is a serious academic and writer with no conflicts and Lerner is an analyst with some peculiar past views but both are wonks and that's fine. But Oscar Goodman would never, ever, EVER diss a new Vegas casino for any reason, no matter how hideous he believed it to be or how drunk he is. And Wynn? It's nice that Wynn was complimentary, but could Sieroty possibly be unaware that three days ago I quoted him as calling Cosmopolitan "an extraordinary example of ill-conceived plans"? Where is the journalist to chime in and note that Wynn's kudos seemed tactful and polite but the other day he said this other thing?

Please understand that I actually am quite fond of the Cosmo, and none of the problems can't be resolved over time. But it is just inaccurate to suggest this place opened flawlessly or to universal praise. And I'm hopeful that as Sieroty settles into his beat, he'll work harder to go beyond the wonks and the execs and try to give the reader a better-rounded perspective on what's happening out there from the customers, too.

* The Friesster Omnipresent. I know I'm late in writing up my views on Cosmo, but I've been a little busy. If you want to know what I think so far, I did an hour with Hunter, Dr. Dave, Jeff Simpson and Chuck Monster yesterday all about Cosmo for The Vegas Gang show yesterday (not posted yet, will update this when it is) and an hour today with Doug Elfman and Richard Abowitz on KNPR's State of Nevada hosted by Ian Mylchreest reflecting on the year in Vegas entertainment and tourism news this morning. You can download that already by right-clicking here. This afternoon I'll be on The Dave Scott Show, too, live on LVRocks.Com at about 4:20 p.m. today talking about Vegas-related holiday gifts and, of course, tomorrow Miles and I will do The Strip. Ther'll be another post about that shortly. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

this quote caught my eye - from the city's most famous Vegan?

"I thought the place was fun and exciting," Wynn said. "I had great sushi and enjoyed the atmosphere at Comme Ça, which is what I was able to experience."

Michael said...

I can understand your point about the mainstream media not picking up on the issues on opening.

However, I'd like to offer an alternative product as a comparison. New software often times can be be extremely buggy, released too soon, etc. To a certain degree, it's a fair assessment that once you've been in the industry for a while, your better off waiting a month or so for the edges to be smoothed out.

Casino openings strike me in a similar way, some are better then others at openings and those issues should be reported on, but as a tourist, my concern is what the place looks like, what it feels like, things like that.

I realize I may not be the demographic the Sun or LVRJ are going for, but then again are local readers concerned about checkin times and housekeeping issues?

My point is, that I'm not sure that the mainstream's coverage should focus on the minutia. You do make an excellent point about the quotes they used for the property, and there is no doubt they weren't going to get anything other then fairly complimentary quotes from those they interviewed, but I'm not sure their audience is looking for that during an opening anyway.

Just my thoughts on the matter, I did like David McKee's review, I thought it focused on what the resort is and reported his opinion of it during his visit. Although I realize David and other bloggers aren't the target of your post.

Looking forward to your right up on the Cosmopolitan though.