Rob Curley And Las Vegas Sun Map The Future Of News

(A clip of Rob Curley being interviewed after the recent INMA conference.)

Amid all the gloom in the news business, it helps to watch a panel that includes Rob Curley of the Las Vegas Sun. Curley is President and Executive Editor of Greenspun Interactive, which owns the Sun.

Last month, I attended “News in the 21st Century: Who Reads Print Anymore?” at the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab. There was an interesting panel discussion. But the evening kicked off with a presentation from Curley, and it’s always hard to top that.

Curley pointed out the generally dismal state of newspaper Web sites. He tries to think, “What do people really want to do on the Internet?” Never does one hear: “Last night I was on the Washington Post Web site and I just lost myself for hours.” But we’ve all had that experience at places like YouTube.

Curley asked: “What would we do if we were re-starting on the Internet?”

The Sun is in a bit of an unusual position, because it’s the second paper in a Joint Operating Agreement. As a first step, the Sun took a fairly radical step in rethinking its print edition: “We built a newspaper for people who love newspapers.” That’s an important distinction. Newspapers have generally focused on how to get readers to print, rather than asking print readers what they like about print, and giving them more of that.

Next, online, the Sun is focused on building a site that reflects the way people consume news and information online. What does that look like? Here are a few examples Curley mentioned:

*Evergreen Projects: Things that they build once and that live forever. Check out this History of Las Vegas. The timeline is awesome. But the database of video clips of building demolitions is also clever.

*Video: They do a lot of Web-friendly video clips. Check out Krugerology. They get UNLV basketball coach Lon Krueger to break down plays, and even re-run them in practice. And in the works is 702.TV. Aimed at local broadcast cable, the entertainment and news show also breaks down to Web clips.

*Geo-tagging: The Sun is in the process of geo-tagging every piece of information on its site. That’s going to allow readers to find content based on their location, and will hopefully enable more location-based advertising.

“If you’re hungry for pancakes at 2 in the morning, we can help you find the best pancakes near you,” Curley said.

That’s the kind of information engine that becomes indispensable to people living in Las Vegas.

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