Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 | 2 a.m.
My father used to tell me that if you want to be a good newspaperman, you have to be prepared to put news about yourself — good or bad — on the front page. That way you can put similar news about others there, too.
I have always tried to heed that advice, and I will not shy away from it now. Our news, in the broad scheme of things, is not unlike the kind of news that is happening in businesses all across America.
The economic meltdown — which has been particularly difficult in Las Vegas — has taken a toll that we are no longer able to withstand without reducing our costs.
We have been cutting costs and staff, where appropriate, most of the year in many of our businesses, trying to find a level at which we can continue to provide value for our customers at a cost that is sustainable in the long run.
Tuesday, though, we had to make those cuts at what has always been the heart of what my family does. And because it happened in our media group — the Las Vegas Sun, LasVegasSun.com, our magazines and weekly publication — even though the reasons are the same, I suppose the news becomes something more than what “everybody else is doing.” After all, we are a newspaper.
When I delivered the message to our people, it was both a hopeful and a sad moment. It was clearly sad because colleagues who have been with us through very difficult times — some for decades, others more recently — would be leaving. In fact, they are gone. That is a fact of the life we are all trying to muddle through, from one bit of bad news to the next.
But, just like the opening of the first building in CityCenter last night, Vdara, there is reason for hope. CityCenter brings new reasons for the people of Las Vegas to believe that we are once again on the rise, our resilience tested to be sure, but proven daily as building after building in this most modern of construction miracles opens its doors to a public yearning to experience what is next and what is best in the city of their dreams.
The same holds true in our little part of the world. We have long believed that being a content leader — a credible and responsible one — is a calling few people have the good fortune to pursue. The ability to help shape the future of our community by providing progressive and proactive thought is a compelling calling.
As we look into the future — however murky it may appear — what becomes clear is the absolute need to have credible information available to the citizenry. Whether it helps us decide, on the more frivolous end of the scale, which show to go to or which restaurant at which to eat, or on the more serious end which candidate or government policy it is that will most advance our lives in this great country, the sine qua non is good, credible and believable information.
That is what newspapers have always provided and, more and more, that is what the Internet and its progeny will provide in the future. There is, as you can well imagine, a huge gap between what is fact and what is fantasy as people try to step from the printed word to the digitized version of what will most certainly be the future of news.
What we have just done at Greenspun Media Group will make that transition happen more smoothly, faster and with more impact. And the winners will be the same people who have always benefited from reading the Las Vegas Sun — the readers.
There is a reason, if I may be so bold, that Mike Kelley’s team at the Sun won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. It has been a dedication to the truth and publishing in the public interest that exposed needless construction deaths on the Strip and probably saved many others from occurring. Mike retires this week — the ink in his blood was not strong enough to keep him so far away from his family — but the belief that what we do around here has real purpose and real consequences continues.
Converging the talents of all of our writers and editors, whether writing for a newspaper or a magazine or a tourist publication, will allow us to compete in the new world that is unfolding and do so in a way that upholds the value of the credibly printed word.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but without dedicated journalists providing us the information we need to be good citizens, good parents and good people, our experiment in democracy and our search for the quality in life will be diminished.
As we awake this morning, there is a bright new day and plenty of opportunity to succeed because we live in this most incredible city. It is the same for CityCenter as employees who were jobless just weeks ago awake to their own, new opportunities. And so it will be the same across this city — if not now, then soon.
That’s the promise that has always been Las Vegas. Our promise at Greenspun Media Group is to do our part to make this city as good a place to live as it can be.
Now, it is time to go back to work.
Brian Greenspun is editor of the Las Vegas Sun.