So this is how that lawsuit by Brian Greenspun against the owners of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was mooted.
In stories posted online yesterday, the print version of the Las Vegas Sun today reports that Brian Greenspun has taken sole control of most of Greenspun Media Group’s media outlets, including the Sun, which is printed as a section in the R-J under a joint operating agreement (JOA). Greenspun had shared ownership of the outlets with his brother and two sisters. Terms of the deal were not revealed.
The owners of the R-J, Stephens Media, had cut a deal with the other three siblings to pay each sibling $70,000 and give them ownership of lasvegas.com, which the Greenspuns lease from Stephens for between $1 million and $2.5 million annually, in exchange for ceasing printing of the Sun.
By my back of the napkin calculation, assuming a circulation of about 100,000 — and it might well be less now — the cost of newsprint for the Sun insert alone is about $2,000 a day or nearly three-quarters of a million dollars a year. That doesn’t include manpower to produce and print those pages or the cost of ink and offset plates. Assuming Brian Greenspun’s claim that his paper gets $1.3 million a year in shared profits under the joint operating agreement, the savings to the R-J in shutting down the JOA tops $2 million a year easily.
How long can the R-J take that hit? A little creative bookkeeping could reduce that profit share for Greenspun — just raise the salary of the top execs by $1.3 million. Poof, no profit.
There was some interesting language in a sidebar to the takeover story that allegedly was a Q&A with Greenspun — “I’m not quitting now.” The operative word being “now.”
One part reads:
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.
Sounds like a shot at his JOA partner and his own daily section.
Then Greespun claims that advertisers love his weekly publications because people choose to pick them up — for free as opposed to actually paying for them. “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,” he says.
The Sun section has no ads, and has had none since it was changed from a dying afternoon paper to a section in the R-J under a renegotiated JOA in 2005.
Elsewhere, Greenspun asks and answers his own question: “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.”
With last week’s news?
The only local “news” story in the entire eight pages — other than the two about changing ownership of the Sun — was first posted online Saturday. The rest is fluff and syndicated features. Not even a local editorial.
But Greenspun promised:
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 Sun has been around for 64 years, and we’re still waiting for that high impact and enterprise reporting that attracts enough readers to make a profit.
Can someone who is apparently incapable of buttoning his shirt properly successfully revolutionize the media industry ?
He doesn’t wear socks either.
Reminds me of “You WILL respect my authoritah!”
Or the guy who thinks he can push a string…
Well,,,,at least Brian Greenspun is putting his money where his mouth is.
Clicking on the LV Sun’s link opens another tab with an advert….low life websites do that. Quality websites don’t.
Good start Brian!
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