Greenspun Media’s The Las Vegas Sun is tucked into the third floor of a modern office complex at 2360 Corporate Circle, Henderson, Nev.
We’d been advised to check out the Las Vegas Sun’s state-of-the-art website under the direction of Rob Curley, senior editor, digital. To see for myself, I opened www.lasvegassun.com, clicked on the Home News link, and entered the zip code for our Las Vegas RV park. Tailored information for MY zip code popped up: news headlines, a calendar of events, a restaurant guide, gas prices, crime reports, high school sports news, movies, and real estate advertising. A variety of maps, charts, a few small ads, presented themselves, and Local Editor Cara McCoy encouraged me to customize my site and submit story ideas. I was impressed and well served. We found a local jazz performance and restaurants from the lists. (See picture above charting zip code traffic.)
In 2008, Las Vegas was “ground zero” financially, says Publisher and Editor Brian Greenspun, and plummeting ad revenue forced reorganization. It forced The Sun to put everybody – the print and digital news staff -- together in the same room. “It forced us down a path of real convergence” says Greenspun. It forced the newspaper to find multiple ways to create revenue. It’s been, “really, really healthy,” Greenspun says. (See Story of the Newspaper)
Senior Editor, Print, Tom Gorman describes The Sun’s newsroom as excelling in posting breaking news, immediately, quicker than anybody else and also posting the more “deeply reported stories that an old-fashioned person would call print,” but those enterprise stories are going online as well as in the newspaper. With a reduced news staff, the newspaper does fewer stories, but “we haven’t lowered the bar [on quality],” Gorman says. The newspaper’s recent recognition bears out this claim.
The Las Vegas Sun and staff writer Alexandra Berzon won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for stories about construction workers’ deaths on the Strip. In December 2010, the Las Vegas Sun won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for "Bottoming Out: Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas," becoming the first print-based news organization to receive the award for multimedia storytelling. And, in March 2011, the $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting was awarded to Marshall Allen and Alex Richards of The Las Vegas Sun by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy for The Sun’s 5-part, multi-platform investigative report: "Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas." (See Enterprise Stories)
A feisty quote from Rob Curley: “I don’t want the news equivalent of a Craig’s List to come in and wipe out what we do. It breaks my heart that the newspaper industry let Craig’s List take away our classified.” “How many franchises have to be taken away from us before we say, ‘No, you don’t get this one.’” Curley aims to be “the protector,” making sure no one penetrates The Sun’s cyber-wall. (See Backgrounder for details about the Sun’s online operation.)
Coming Next: the Pacific Coast series: La Opinion (Los Angeles, Calif.), The Garden Island (Lihu’e, Kauai, Hawaii) Willamette Week (Portland, Ore.), and The Seattle Times.
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-- Sara Brown and Paul Steinle