Monday, July 25, 2011

Media Muddle: Gross Pools, Due Credit & Stupid Questions

A few bits and pieces of stuff that caught my eye lately in the Vegas-related media:

* Nothing makes me happier than when a local freelance writer breaks a good, enterprising story out from under the established press, and that's what Melissa Arseniuk did on Sunday in The Daily with her probe of the cleanliness of the pool water at several Vegas "day club" venues. It's thoroughly disgusting but also a pretty great idea and one that it's fairly unlikely either major media company -- or Arseniuk's former employer Vegas Seven for that matter -- would do as it would put at risk one of the few steady advertising revenue streams that have held up through the recession. Nicely done, although did she have to invoke the most predictable of Vegas cliches in her lead? You have that awesome a story idea, it deserves equally original writing.

* Anyone who cares about Vegas and Vegas business matters ought to be subscribed and listening to the Vegas Gang podcast to begin with. But if you need convincing, pick up their superb and frank interview with M Resort developer Anthony Marnell III.

* On that same VG episode, former In Business Las Vegas editor Jeff Simpson noted the meager Vegas media response to the passing of Terry Lanni and used it as a mark of why it's so important for people who care about Vegas -- and cover it -- to pay attention to what's going on on blogs such as Two Way Hard Three and VegasTripping. (I'd add in Stiffs & Georges, too, as required visiting.) Of course, I agree, but Jeff left out one more important piece of it: The established media also must start to acknowledge when online publications break news. Norm Clarke of the R-J is the only one who does so consistently. It was VegasTripping.Com that broke the Aria Legionnaires' disease story, but for whatever reason Jon Ralston would rather give the scoop credit to his hated rival the Review-Journal (?!?!?) than the correct outlet. Lookit:

That's at least two errors in two sentences for Ralston, who loves to mock the R-J for its mistakes but won't ever correct these. First, VT had this up at 8:50 a.m. and the R-J had this up at 9:46 a.m., so VT wins. Oddly, Ralston should have known because he linked to the VT posting. But, also, VT's Chuck Monster is not a local. The blog is based in California. Oopsie.

* Speaking of David McKee, he now has my blessing to be upset with Brian Greenspun for not memorializing Terry Lanni in his Sunday column. In fact, neither newspaper even bothered to write an editorial about Lanni and Vegas Inc just reran Liz Benston's first-day obit. A shameful, disrespectful goodbye for a monumental figure. I was glad to see Howard Stutz follow up with a report about Lanni's memorial service in Southern California, but why wasn't that in the newspaper, too?

* A few things I learned from other journalists this week:
* In journalism school, you learn never to open a story with a question. I'm OK with opening with questions -- I never do it, but I don't always hate it -- but I do think there ought to be a rule that you never open a story with a dumb question. You know, like when J. Patrick Coolican of the Las Vegas Sun writes:

Throw this onto the ever-growing pile of the baffling: Why is there no discussion about blight on the Strip? Why is there no sense of concern — and with it, fresh ideas — about the long stretches of our most important economic and cultural asset that are pocked with half-finished projects or just empty land?

Is he kidding? Maybe this goes back to Simpson's point about Vegas journalists needing to pay attention to what's going on online. "No discussion?" There's discussion constantly on the Vegas-related podcasts, at least, including Vegas Gang and The Strip. There was discussion of it in the MSM, too, when Steve Wynn paid to put up trees in front of the stalled Echelon to improve the view a little, when Sheldon Adelson put a wrap on the stalled St. Regis condos and Caesars Entertainment finished the exterior of the stalled Octavius Tower and when MGM Resorts finished the exterior of the vexed Harmon and when the Stratosphere CEO told me for my LVW column that what I dubbed as Decay Alley at the north end of the Strip post-Sahara would be rough on them.

Which is to say, there's been discussion. No, Patrick, you're not the first to notice this. You may have an interesting idea for what to do up there, although I've never heard the many tourists I hear from regularly suggest what Vegas is missing is an outdoor market where they can buy crafts and crap in 105-degree heat. But when you open like that, you show how little you pay attention to the discourse going on all around you.

* Norm Clarke is a maestro at finding the Vegas angle of just about any celebrity death, and there seem to be an awful lot of 'em. So here's what he came up with regarding Amy Winehouse. Amazing, really.

* In case you missed it, I raved about Andrew Kiraly's novel Crit on The Strip last week. It was our Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week for July 20, too. I read it in about four hours and I'm a slow reader. Buy it.


Anonymous said...

When Park Place Entertainment CEO Arthur Goldberg died, his obsequies got far higher-profile media treatment than did Lanni's -- and the latter was a fixture of the Vegas scene far longer and more influentially than was Goldberg. Cripes, Greenspun devoted an entire Sunday column to the deservedly obscure Henri Lewin ... but no love for Lanni? What did he do to tick Brian off?

David McKee

Anonymous said...

Sure there's urine in the daylife pools, but wouldn't it be interesting to see how they compare with the water at pools that attract a lot of families and children? It could be even worst!

Anonymous said...

How was the pool story written by a local freelance writer if Melissa now lives in New York? said...

I admire Chuck Monster's tenacity and work and have personally told him so. The fact that he does it all from out-of-state is extra impressive.

I also will be the first to agree that the R-J's reporting often leaves something to be desired.

Having said that:

Chuck has the luxury of posting a "look at this Aria email" and letting it go at that. The R-J did a lengthy story which I imagine required quite a bit of time and research. They just can't toss something up to be first. They have somewhat of an obligation to do a carefully researched piece. And that takes time. Whose to say they didn't already know and were working on a story?

Can it be frustrating even on a small level to bring something to the forefront and get no credit? Of course. The entire Las Vegas market has been saturated with anti-(indoor)-smoking ads. As part of a series I did regarding the smoking law changes(one of the few times I get into hard news), I noted that this campaign was being funded by the US Government (Department of Health and Human Services). Just a few days later, the Sun does an article on just that. Despite that fact that the ad campaign had been running for weeks.

If the mainstream media pays more attention to the Las Vegas new media, they are just going to steal more stories! Having said that, I agree they are woefully behind.

I know that Chuck has been adamant about staying in Los Angeles, but he'd be an amazing media force if he lived here. He's be frequently interviewed (print and TV, kind of like Dr. Dave is), probably end up as a somewhat regular on NWIR, and get the credit he craves and deserves for his work. But... Las Vegas is a pretty tight-knit town. Until or unless he can really network in person and on a regular basis, some of what he wants will elude him.

Anonymous said...

Arseniuk didn't "break" the story about dirty pool water at Las Vegas resorts. There was a story about that topic on KLAS-TV a year or so ago, done by Jon Humbert.

Jeff Simpson said...

I agree with Steve that mainstream media outlets following up on a story should credit new media sources that first reported a story, whether they were "already working on the story" or not.

My problem is that I believe a fairly large portion of Las Vegas mainstream media reporters do not pay close attention to important new media. They may follow Twitter and Facebook, but, for example, in my area of expertise, I'm pretty sure the city's casino business reporters are not regularly reading the appropriate blogs. When I was at the Sun I checked Steve F.'s blog, Hunter's, Dave Schwartz' and ChuckMonster's on an almost-daily basis (and still do). Just as bloggers should be checking the Sun and R-J, Twitter and FB.
As a reporter you should do your best to be informed. Many of the city's mainstream media reporters are far less informed than some of the best new media contributors.