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Rob Curley on transforming the Las Vegas Sun

Rob Curley has had a few months to settle into his new gig at the Las Vegas Sun. He recently posted his thoughts on how that paper is embracing multimedia and coordinating work between online and print. That’s something virtually every news organization is grappling with, so his experience is worth highlighting.

But first, let’s note a couple of things that make the Sun an unusual place these days. First, it’s owned by the Greenspun family. Not a lot of big metro papers left that are family owned these days. And second, the Sun operates under a JOA which, as Curley points out, means:

The Sun’s print edition — because of a very unique JOA with the other newspaper in town — doesn’t really act like a local newspaper of record, and instead acts much more like a daily magazine or a daily paper’s Sunday newspaper. Every day, the Sun print edition is jammed to the gills with lots of thoughtful and very good journalism being crafted by thoughtful and very good journalists. Eight pages with no ads Monday through Friday. Six pages on Saturday. Ten pages on Sunday. A local newspaper filled with lots of local journalism that matters and no ads. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Hell, it’s probably the craziest thing any of us have seen in regards to local media.

Curley says his post might be a little too much insider baseball. But if you’re trying to see how one paper balances the demands of print versus the Web, this is an illuminating read. To make his point, Curley takes us through one day in the paper’s recent history by examining how his Web team covered several stories, how the paper did things differently online and in print, and how those efforts complimented each other. For instance, the print version didn’t cover the O.J. Trial much on a daily basis, but the online team did and also was using Twitter in the courtroom.

One note about this: From Curley’s description, it sounds like the Sun essentially has two newsrooms. Though clearly there’s a lot of overlap and they’re not entirely separate, Curley notes at times the use of “print photographers” to shoot photos for online. And he makes distinctions at other times about who is producing content for online and who is coming from the print newsroom. That’s not unlike the situation at Curley’s former employer, The Washington Post, which kept two separate newsrooms, but is now expected to merge them.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Sun becomes more integrated under Curley’s direction.

For more background, also ready MindyMcAdams’ three-part blog post on her toughts about the Las Vegas Sun.

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