Editorial: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas (v 2.0)

We are the world and the world is Las Vegas

Posted by Chuckmonster

Early Las Vegas depended on the media to shape, frame and disperse it's message. One of the main media outlets in the early days of Las Vegas was the Las Vegas Free Press - now the Las Vegas Sun - published by Hank Greenspun. Greenspun, who passed away in 1989, left his formidable publishing industry to his family, who continue its operation today. The Greenspun family's parent company, The Greenspun Corporation, has a diverse array of non-publishing ventures in its corporate portfolio. The Greenspun Corporation's holdings include land development via the American Nevada Company, tourist targeted web property Vegas.com and a handful of broadcast and web-based television programming stations. Through ANC, Greenspun Corporation is part owner of numerous Las Vegas casinos - Green Valley Ranch (50%), The Palms (5%), Aliante Station (50%), Barley's (50%) casinos [from Wikipedia] as well as the newly announced mixed-use project that will be built in Jean Nevada on top of the soon to be razed Nevada Landing casino (50%).

Greenspun Media Group's print and web properties include the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Magazine (formerly the Showbiz Weekly toilet reading mag), Las Vegas Life, Las Vegas Weekly, In Business Las Vegas, glossy Vegas Magazine, Vegas Golfer, Las Vegas Life, and Ralston Flash. Vegas.com also has a partnership to operate LasVegas.com with the Review-Journal's parent company Stephens Media.

This preamble is not intended to be an indictment of Greenspun Media or its business / editorial practices, but instead to offer a little background about the Las Vegas media machine and and how you, the Vegas tripper will play a greater a part in defining the Las Vegas media experience in the coming years. I have purposefully have omitted the Review-Journal's parent company Stephens Media for the sake of brevity.


"That's not a real poncho, that's a Sears poncho." - Frank Zappa

A tectonic shift in how information is delivered has rocked the mainstream media in the last few years. The rise of easy-to-use blogging software, RSS syndication and digital photography has lowered the cost of entry for non-professional writers, broadcasters and other enthusiasts to set up their own media properties. The need for a networked fleet of programmers, printing presses, delivery trucks, graphic designers and photo pools has been replaced by click and go software, a simple web hosting plan, a couple of microphones and $10 book on basic html. These homespun publishers have taken the do-it-yourself approach and flipped the traditional media paradigm on its back. Major news networks continually cite and interview bloggers, podcasters and webmasters in their stories, and even have blogs of their own - like a knock-off iPod, they just don't have the pizzazz.

We've all been programmed since birth to trust the news man, the paper and the experts. Well, Katie Couric is a pretty face that reads the news, she isn't the arbiter of what the news is and certainly doesn't write it. The newspaper that lines your cat box is owned by the company that is advertising in its pages and is puffed up in its editorials. If that weren't enough... there's no such thing as an expert. We are all experts.


Why I Trust My Friends More Than The Media (And You Should Too)


1) The semi-astute media consumer has cultivated high-grade 'bullshit detectors' and can sniff out marketing-speak at the first odoriferous whiff.

Vegas.com has a podcast entitled Vegas in 5. While the technical quality of their video and audio podcasts are excellent, their content is entirely scripted advertainment. While this may result in a handful of show ticket sales on Vegas.com, it true usefulness for Vegas trippers is quite limited, if there is any at all.

Comparatively, Tim & Michele Dressen's Five Hundy By Midnight : The Original Las Vegas Podcast is produced on a shoestring budget, if they even have formalized budgets at all - knowing the Dressens' appetite for deuces wild video poker and collecting pumps, this is doubtful. Five Hundy By Midnight's comfy, conversational tone illustrates very clearly how useless Vegas.com's "Vegas in 5" podcast really is. Through really simple syndication, great content and reader comments, an entire community has spawned around Five Hundy. Via iTunes and word of mouth linkage, each show is downloaded by thousands of Vegas freaks each week. Each episode is followed by days of banter on their website, where discussion of the topics presented (d)evolve into detailed minutiae of the Las Vegas experience peppered with inside jokes and other random quips and quotes. Wanna know where all the Sigma Derby games in Las Vegas are? Don't ask Vegas.com.



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Comments & Discussion


A truly amazing column --- and speaking with some authority on the issue of the "traditional" media --- you are RIGHT ON... Sites like VT and others are where the future of journalism rests....not with the corporate controlled entities that now dictate everything we see, read and hear.

Vegas.com is a shill site. The only thing missing is Tanya Roberts (or some other has-been B-lister) doing an awkward "interview" with some radio DJ or show host. If I never hear another Tahiti Village commercial...............

Sites like the above mentioned Vegas.com cater to the person who wants to do things quick and dirty without getting their hands dirty doing research (The same type of person that would rather book their entire trip through a travel site instead of doing each reservation separately [Even though in most cases, you'll save money by booking through the hotel/airline/rental car company as they offer their lowest rates on their own sites.]. The smart person will use a site like Vegas.com as a starting point, but go to the indy sites to get the real scoop on things. Who would know better, the members of these indy sites who have actually stayed more than one night at these hotels, eaten at the restaurants, seen the shows, and so on or some pencil-necked geek working for a "travel review/info" website owned by the local fishwrapper? The pencil-necked geeks may be able to sway Ma and Paw Kettle from the Midwest going to Vegas for the first time, but not those who make regular trips out there. We don't need to know what hotel, restaurant, show, nightclub, ultralounge, etc is the hip spot or the best place (which changes about as often as Paris Hilton changes boyfriends [or the payola quits coming in.]) We go where those of us who have gone before have been and reported back to us on.

The Vegas Vox Populi has the means to be the true informative source for folks wanting info on hotels, shows, restaurants, etc. The problem is getting those seeking such information to come to those sites. I know when someone on one of the number of online forums I'm a member of asks for Vegas tips, I alway try to steer them to VegasTripping or one of the other sites that give it to you straight, no chaser.

Excellent commentary, not only on the new voices of Vegas, but also the turning-on-its-side of that old phrase: "Freedom of the press belongs to the man that owns one". Now we all own one.

I am absolutely flattered that you inluded my What's Happening, Vegas blog. I am, so far, third tier compared to you, but I'm having fun and I live in Vegas, and to me, that's all that matters!

Thanks again for linking to my humble blog.

This reminds me a lot of "video game journalism," a phrase used by some people who work in the independent online media covering (ahem) certain types of software. The utopian idea always was that once the internet caught on, stories would become instantaneous, real opinions would bury promotional advertising, etc. The "journalism" part is intentional irony, because it turned out their independent media really isn't. Review copies come with clauses about review publishing dates, and unlike the New York Times nobody is going to jail and refusing to cite sources for that story that some gaming tycoon somewhere didn't want spread.

The same is, more or less, true with caisnos. These blogs, sites, etc are free to give their opinion, but The Man is the one who chooses to give out the information in the first place, and that information will come with a price once the casino industry realizes that something called VegasTripping should be treated as seriously as USA Today. You're free to give any opinion you like, so long as it's about things you're allowed to give opinions about.

VT, FiveHundy, podcasts, and the rest all have a cumulative effect as a community because as soon as one figures out something the others will pick it up and eventually it will become common knowledge. However, until one of these community members has a high roller's bank account and has enough greenbacks to afford giving a middle finger to every cease & desist order that comes his way over the public release of intellectual property, the press will never truly be free. Independence is a relative term, even if a couple in Minnesota asking prostitutes where Countryland is happen to become respected media in the industry.

So basically, you gave it an optimistic try, and I admire that, but I've seen this dream play out before. The end result is the same kind of advertising, but with better, more human editors replacing the spin-tastic company owned PR machine.

@minvegas

You always post thoughtful intelligent comments, and I appreciate the depth your posts bring to any subject - they are always thought provoking. For the sake of this discussion, whether or not one agrees with what you or anyone else posts doesn't really matter... that is the point of this editorial. Time Magazine - one of the most respected and influential traditional media print magazines - has declared you, the person of the year. Congratulations! You, though your comments here and elsewhere as well as the many bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, youtubers globally, have changed the media landscape. The pervasiveness of This Mob will only increase, not decrease over time. This kitten is out of the bag and its hungry.

Whether or not a blogger is violating IP rights, or a reader posts a lousy review of a property, or a husband and wife ask silly questions to hookers isn't the point here. With easy to use tools, all of these people - including you - have become the media. Yes, the choices made to publish others intellectual property is a bad one and bloggers who do so deserve a cease & desist letter. However, to know that a multi-billion dollar behemoth corporation - which has a helluva lot larger fish to fry than a two bloggers who posted some jpgs - would spend the time and resources to get Schwartz & Schwartz to send them a C&D illustrates beyond any doubt whatsoever that these 'video poker journalists' are to be taken seriously.

None of the sites I've mentioned are on par - oomph wise - with CNN, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Advisor, Gridskipper.com or even The Queen of Comps, but with a 50 of them, interconnected, supporting each other, all growing exponentially (as VT is) it won't be long before the low hanging fruit falls into oblivion. Yes, the content may be a little rickety - I'll be the first one to say that I can barely spell - but David McKee at the Review-Journal owned LVBP apparently can't either (see Macao - he gets a pass because he used the word "featherbedding" in a later paragraph.) Yes, the production values may not be sparkling, the images grainy, or the mysql database objects might blow up from time to time, but if each of these 16 publishers has 250,000 unique visitors per year (right now for most it's doubtful) - that's 4 million people - 10% of the annual Las Vegas tourist tally. And if each one of those folks told two friends they were tripping with where they got all the good info and they told two friends and so on and so on and so on.

You are right, I am being optimistic. I'm an optimistic person, that's why I go to Vegas. I love to gamble even though I know full well what the house advantage is. I love to have the best time I can - all the time, that's who I am. I'd much rather be optimistic and thwarted than to unplug VT's servers, wondering 'what if' for the rest of my life. But thats me.

You should consider adding http://www.vegasry.com to your list. VegasRy has a cool Las Vegas blog that updates daily will lots of news, reviews, tips, and overall commentary about everything LV. They also have a Vegas podcast called the "Gin & Tonic Hour."
http://www.vegasry.com/index.php?section=podcast

Certainly an interesting read down the road here. Most everyone involved (except the sites that have gone bye-bye) has gotten the recognition they deserve as a Vegas insider (and the PR invites and respect to match).

Welcome to the fine line of promoting Las Vegas, and critiquing it at the same time.

The LVCVA and Greenspuns/Vegas.com fart (in a day or two) what most of the sites, podcasts, and blogs you listed make in a year combined. Don't get me wrong: I'm no fan of the LVCVA. Been openly critical about them. Have no love for the Greenspuns.

If you figure out how to harness this "mob" of Las Vegas visitors, count me in. Until then, let me hold my head high as one of the very few (and I mean very, very few) independent web publishers who has found a way to make a long-time full-time living (plus a small staff) while not shying away from snotty criticism of present day Las Vegas (everything from 6-5 to CityCenter).

I'll be at Podcast-a-Palooza.

Drinks will be on me... and yes, I've heard how much some of you can drink. Not a problem. I'll be the guy with the yellow shirt with the AV logo on it.

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