Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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‘I’m not quitting now’: Brian Greenspun on the future of the Sun and GMG

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Christopher DeVargas

Brian Greenspun took over outright possession of the Las Vegas Sun and its parent company, Greenspun Media Group, on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Greenspun announced the agreement at the GMG offices in Henderson.

After months of uncertainty, the announcement that the Las Vegas Sun will endure means the media landscape in the region will continue to be shaped by Greenspun Media Group publications, which serve the most diverse and complete audience of any media company in the area.

We sat down with Brian Greenspun, the owner of GMG, to discuss the media market in Las Vegas.

There are tectonic shifts in media. Why buy the Sun and GMG now?

No other local media company matches our reach across both local and tourist markets and no one else is as innovative. The Sun will continue to serve a traditional newspaper audience across the valley. And while we know that this audience is growing older and dwindling in size, it’s still an important group for us to reach.

You talk about the daily print newspaper audience shrinking, which has been happening across the country. Study after study shows that if you’re younger than 50, the odds are slim that you read a daily print newspaper. What do you say to people who are surprised to see someone buy a newspaper company today?

The answer is simple: Even if the daily newspaper audience is shrinking dramatically, it deserves diversity of viewpoints and high-quality journalism. My father spent his life and I am spending mine trying to make this community a better place. I’m not quitting now.

Besides, we’re much more than just the Sun. Las Vegas Magazine is in 92 percent of all local hotel rooms — no one else comes close — and 650,000 tourists a week see it. Vegas2Go is the essential carry-along guide for tourists. Our digital products, led by lasvegassun.com and lasvegasweekly.com, are the national award-winning standard setters in the valley. No other digital publications in this market have been as honored as ours or have the reach that we have.

And then we have the local one-two punch of the Las Vegas Weekly, by far the region’s most read stand alone entertainment publication, and our newest title, the weekly news publication, The Sunday.

So you’re saying the media pundits who say print is dead are wrong?

I hate that expression. Some print is dying, yes, but lots of print is thriving. Our weekly print publications are incredibly vital and have an eager readership. The people who say print is dead are talking exclusively about the daily print newspaper. And it’s true that dailies have seen circulation collapse and, even for subscribers, print newspapers are too often left unread and head right to the recycling bin.

This is why at GMG we’re focusing on developing new products for today’s readers. We think of them as destination publications. And the public responds — the Weekly enjoys a 94 percent pickup rate and is read by hundreds of thousands of Las Vegans each month who regard it as the essential entertainment magazine. Meanwhile, we expect our forthcoming audit of the Sunday will show that it also will have a 93 percent or 94 percent pickup rate.

If print is dead, why is everyone picking up and reading our weekly publications? Weekly print is exploding with interest, it’s just the daily print newspaper that is fading from relevance.

To what do you attribute this strong response?

What we have to ask ourselves is: What do we need to do to keep telling the stories of the community and make a little profit along the way? That’s why we’re focusing on building today’s products for today’s readers.

The Sunday endeavors to tell stories in powerful new ways. Never in my career have I seen a response from readers as strong as we’ve seen with The Sunday. From the very first issue it has flown off the stands.

Readers are in love with it. Advertisers are telling us it works wonderfully for them. Unlike dailies where you never know if the publication was left sitting in the driveway, our weekly publications are picked up by people who intend to read them.

Literally, hundreds of thousands of Las Vegans make an active choice to read our weeklies every week. Add to that our dynamic digital audience and the readership of the Sun and our tourist publications and that’s real reach.

And because our weeklies don’t have multiple sections, advertisers don’t have to wonder whether their ads were actually seen by real, live and fully engaged readers.

The Sunday and VEGAS INC, which is now inside The Sunday, are trendsetting publications that are read by people from 20 to 80. Dead? No way. Our print is very much alive. We’re growing readership every day.

You sound pretty optimistic when everyone talks about a challenging media environment. Why?

We’re committed to continuous innovation. In the next few months we’re going to unveil bold new plans for high impact and enterprise reporting that could create a model for the rest of the nation. And we’ve got new approaches to other publications as well. I’ve been in media for nearly my whole life and I’ve never been more excited. The doom and gloom come only from people who have run out of ideas. And we have a talented team with a deep pool of ideas.

The challenge to media in our community is nothing more than finding new ways to be relevant to Las Vegans which, in turn, will allow us to perform our constitutional responsibility of informing the public about matters of community interest.

This entire effort is about helping my community grow responsibly. It is the legacy my parents left, it is my life’s work and, I hope, my legacy and it is the GMG staff’s passion.

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