Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Brian Greenspun gives his mom the second-best gift ever

Second rise of Las Vegas Sun can make her proud

Love is never having to say you’re sorry.

That sounds good in the movies — can you say “Love Story”? — but it doesn’t quite cut it in real life. You see, for the second year in a row I forgot to acknowledge Mother’s Day. My dear, sweet, loving and realistic mother may forgive my social boorishness, but there are other women in my life who aren’t as understanding.

There really is no reason for slighting the mother of my child, the mother of my grandchild and the rest of the mothers who think they have some claim over a mention in this space every year.

After all, my father was a most diligent publisher who made sure he warned every male who could read of the great dangers inherent in forgetting the female of the species on her special day. For some reason, though, the lesson did not sink in. It has failed me two years in a row.

The only mother I didn’t hear from was the one who has the longest running claim to my affection — my mother. It was almost as if she expected me to forget.

So, this week I have decided to make it right. And, fortunately, I have been graced with a great sense of timing and a substantial bit of luck so that I can give my mother the only kind of gift she cannot get for herself. Besides the adoring and respectful love and affection that her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren have for her, there is not much else in this world my mother needs or wants.

She has been blessed with a wonderful life and the past few years during which she has witnessed multiple fourth-generation births with all the excitement, warmth and love that comes with them. What else could she ever want? The answer is simple. Nothing else. Life is good.

But, having spent her entire adult life in the newspaper and media business, I think there is something else that will make her happy. For four decades, the Las Vegas Sun was the only newspaper in the state of Nevada that enjoyed a national and international reputation as well as a place in this community that assured my parents a seat at the table when decisions were made about the kind and quality of growth that would take place in this valley. People everywhere knew and respected the Sun.

It has been quite a while since the sheer force of personality that was Hank Greenspun graced the front page of our newspaper. Over time, the Sun became just another newspaper, especially since 1990, when we entered into a joint operating agreement with the Review-Journal, and we lost our ability to determine our own course.

Almost three years ago, we changed our relationship with the R-J and became a newspaper within a newspaper, sharing the same circulation and the same delivery time. In one day we became part of the largest newspaper in Nevada. We also were freed from the need to produce a traditional print product — a circumstance that allowed us to imagine a different kind of newspaper, one that better served and was more relevant to the needs of our valley. It allowed us to think about a future that was not tied directly to a printing press or the way we used to do business.

I mention all this not to suggest that we have found all the right answers, because we haven’t. It is quite clear that newspapers are struggling all over the country, trying to find a business model that will allow them to compete in this century as we were able to do in the prior two centuries.

What is clear to me, though, is that just as the printing press revolutionized the information industry almost 600 years ago, the Internet and the digital age are having the same effect today. What will happen to the printed word on paper in a few more decades is unclear and, perhaps, unsettling. What seems clear today, however, is that the digital age is here to stay.

If you look at our democracy and the absolute necessity for our people to have access to quality information that is both factual and timely, you have to conclude that news organizations that provide that information will still be here in 50 years. If we are not and if those who take our place are not credible and not correct, democracy will suffer and our way of life will crumble beneath a blogosphere full of ignorance and an electorate full of, well, full of desire without ability. It should be a given that quality media are essential to a functioning democracy.

So, what is our present to our publisher, my mother? It is a small but important step toward putting her Las Vegas Sun back where it belongs — on the tongues and in the hearts and minds of America. We live in an all-American City, and that city deserves a news organization that is on the cutting edge of technology, journalistic ability and quality community involvement.

Admittedly, we have come a long way since 1950, when my parents first published the Las Vegas Sun. If you will indulge me a commercial plug, the Greenspun Media Group is now a large and growing influence throughout our state and nation.

What used to be a few handfuls of dedicated journalists and technical crews is now a many-hundred-people-strong organization, providing all manner of print publications from suburban newspapers to specialty products such as In Business Las Vegas and Las Vegas Weekly and high-end magazines such as Vegas, Ocean Drive and Los Angeles Confidential.

This past week we took a giant leap back to the front of the media pack. In what is just the beginning of the next generation of good, powerful and responsible journalism, the Las Vegas Sun was recognized for the best overall newspaper-affiliated Web site in the country. Our recognition at the 13th annual “EPpy” Awards — sponsored by Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek — was for Web sites having fewer than 1 million unique monthly visitors. The category for more than 1 million visitors was won by The New York Times. The point is, we are in the best company we can keep and we are only four months old.

We have an incredible team of young Web site pioneers that has joined a remarkable group of some of the most talented print journalists in the business. The early results are in and our peers have judged us among the best in the nation. And we are just getting started.

Our Mother’s Day gift to our publisher is not the award itself. It is the understanding that the Las Vegas Sun is back and on the way to bigger and better things. And the beauty of this whole thing is that my mother has lived long enough and worked hard enough to see this rise to national prominence at least twice in her lifetime. Other than her family, I can’t think of a better gift for Barbara Greenspun.

I am grateful to all my colleagues for their efforts in making this gift possible. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. It’s a bit late but so much better than never.

Brian Greenspun is editor of the Las Vegas Sun.