Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Very Good Vegas Media Shuffle

A couple of really fascinating job changes are in the works out there in Vegas medialand, both of which make a ton of sense and promise to improve the overall outlook.

First, Steve Sebelius has left Las Vegas CityLife to be a political columnist for the Review-Journal. This is a good thing because punditry and analysis are what Sebelius does best. It also adds a bona fide liberal voice to the R-J's opinion pages, something that's been missing there since Erin Neff bolted in a post-election huff in 2008.

Being a rigorous editor demanding his reporters do great work was not Steve's best skill. There are numerous examples of cover stories in CityLife in recent years that were poorly sourced, overlooked important elements and provided precious little of the sort of insight for which we turn to weeklies. I often got the impression Sebelius was much too busy pursuing a TV career and working on his own blog and column, and I was never quite clear how the editor of a print publication could also be an "investigative reporter" (as opposed to pundit) for a TV news outfit. Which loyalty is served? If Sebelius had some news to break, it would seem he owed it to his main gig to do it there, not in a competing medium. Would he allow his own staff reporters to break stories elsewhere? You'd think not. But this problem is now resolved; he's a pundit for the R-J and a journalist/analyst for KLAS. Go forth and prosper.

Meanwhile, the wonderfully talented Scott Dickensheets, who gave me my column at the Las Vegas Weekly as editor there, has done something pretty unusual these days: He's leaving Greenspun Media for a gig with the R-J's parent Stephens Media as ... the new editor of Las Vegas CityLife! This is terrific news for the publication, which now will get a truly experienced journalist and gifted writer at its helm and -- God willing -- perhaps a sense of humor, too. Scott's got such a vast and impressive career as a magazine writer and editor; those reporters better get ready to start defending their sourcing and story angles better once he arrives. My sense is two of the most prominent staffers -- Amy Kingsley and Jason Whited -- have raw talent but could use some mentoring from someone like Scott.

I wish I could say I'm disappointed to be losing Scott as the Las Vegas Sun's metro columnist, but I'm not. I'm not really sure why, but I just never got the sense he got into the rhythm of it during his brief tenure. When I think of the great metro columnists in this city -- OK, there's just one, the R-J's John L. Smith -- I think of a mix of great writing and truly original reporting on topics that are often overlooked. I never had the sense of discovery I expected from Scott's columns, and I kept waiting for that to kick in. Maybe he just didn't enjoy it as much as he thought he would.

Anyhow, these are good changes. Everyone gets to do what they're especially good at and, I suspect, that they most enjoy. That's a win-win for them and the community.


Anonymous said...

I liked Scott's column, but in light of his departure, I find it striking that the LV Sun, given the niche it's tried to carve out since becoming the Sunsert, has never managed to cultivate a strong local columnist's voice.