Friday, February 4, 2011

This Kid Is A Hero

This should end the question of whether gays can raise kids as well as straight parents. It won't, but it should. It's 3 very, very worthwhile and astonishing minutes. Here's the context. Now watch it:

The #NFL v #Vegas & More!

Yes, I've been vacating. Sort of. In actuality, our eight-day London sojourn was packed with assignments that I'm busy this weekend fulfilling along with expense forms and other various and sundry things related things.

But it's not as though I've been completely neglecting my Vegas duties. Here's some recent stuff to gnaw at while I concoct a fun blog about the London trip:

* My Las Vegas Weekly column this week examines how Vegas is no longer just where old show-biz talents go to die, it's also a Mecca for formerly prominent 1990s tabloid sensations. OK, so it's not as explosive a piece as last week's Twitter Twerps drama. They can't all be.

* I contributed to Desert Companion's Best Of issue with entries naming the region's best vet (as informed by Petcast co-host and current Knight-Wallace fellow Emily Richmond), best new political activist and best beat reporter.

* With the Super Bowl once again upon us, I revisited the ongoing drama between the NFL and Las Vegas for AOL News. Rob Dondero from R&R Partners seems convinced that sooner or later the team will overrule the NFL's ban on Vegas-related advertising if only because they want our money for stadium billboards and the like.

This brings me to the most pressing question: Who to lay my Super Bowl bet on? I'm inclined to go Pittsburgh and the under, anticipating a low-scoring game. Who's with me?

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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Twitter Twerps Respond With More B.S. And Number-Gaming

I'm not going to pretend I understand everything Chris Rauschnot wrote in his belated, blathering reaction to the firestorm set off by my Las Vegas Weekly column and Chuckmonster's VegasTripping expose examining the nefarious and greedy tactics of the Twitter brothers who scammed Vegas.

I do know what's NOT in here:

* Any explanation or apology for their ham-handed and bullying practices of demanding freebies and threatening casinos and others when they're not sated.

* Any explanation as to how it is that their numbers have so stunningly plateaued in the past year if they didn't build them fraudulently rather than organically. Is there any reason why popular Tweeters with 40,000 or 50,000 robust and engaged followers would suddenly just stop gaining more people? This stuff feeds upon itself; the more people who see your stuff, the more they pass it along, the more new followers you get. It doesn't stop, it grows exponentially as you gather steam. How does it make any sense that Tweeters as popular as they claim to be and as prolific as they are would not continue to grow -- especially after that puff piece I mistakenly provided them six months ago.

* Any accounting, in the blah-blah about impressions and numbers, for the notion that just because you say something on Twitter doesn't mean anyone notices it. That is, I have about 3,450 followers right now. If I Tweet something, I don't get to pretend that all 3,450 -- if they're all real people anyway -- read it. This is where data from Twitter is dicey, because it's a whitewater river flowing by. Engagement is far more important than "impressions," especially since it seems clear that the vast number of followers of @24k and @VegasBill are not real people anyway. There are a lot of Twitter engagement assessment tools out there that folks like The Twerps take as gospel but which have never been independently evaluated by statisticians or other credible figures. But they fail the common-sense test, just as Chris' claim that he was only fishing for birthday Tweets for his dear brother is an idiotic suggestion that no thinking person would accept.

As I -- and Chuck! -- have said, my greatest talents don't lie in the technological realm. I am, however, an expert on the English language and just want to note that this passage...

To say that Tweets from 24k or VegasBiLL spur little to no action, do not know the analytics behind what they can do, especially when dealing with positive or highly relevant information to the followers and network. According to TweetReach, a service that analyzes reach and impressions on Twitter, is as Brian Solis says, ". an essential part of any digital influence program. the mark of an illiterate man.

Chris goes on about YouTube and how a couple of his videos enjoyed very large viewerships. Terrific. No way of knowing if maybe some major celebrity site picked it up, which would be a lark and not a trend. What I do know is that he has 765 videos in his YouTube channel, Gershwin9, and a whopping 14 comments.

Chris can talk and talk and talk about the long tail and boast using non-credible metrics for engagement, but the fact is that he's got 50,000 or so followers and only ... FOUR of them have gone to watch this video posted three days ago?!?

Come on, dude. Give it up. You're a phony. Case closed.

P.S. It is endlessly funny that Cody has altered his Twitter name from VegasBill to VegasBiLL and that he and Rauschnot have started using that in casual writing as well as on Twitter. They did that, of course, to differentiate from @VegasBilll, the hilarious parody account that in just nine tweets cut to the quick of what's wrong with these poseurs. I also love that, following on @EricWhitaker's suggestion, the parody account is now @VegasBilLL.