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Las Vegas Review-Journal Publisher Bob Brown joined us to talk about what his paper has become—post-layoffs, post-Sherman Frederick— 12 months into his, and editor Michael Hengel’s, tenure.
“I think the newspaper can be a great force for good in the community," Brown says. "[Reporters] can feel that energy, that vibrance. That's what they want."
But that force for good has certainly been cut down during the past year, as the R-J sustained massive layoffs, first of its investigative team, and then in August laying off several other reporters, editors and photographers later in the year.
“Certainly, our revenues were down substantially,” Brown says of the reasoning behind the layoffs. “We had to take steps to make sure the enterprise was sound and to do the things we need to do."
Brown’s mantra has become doing “more with less,” but it certainly appears that that might not be possible. Brown, a former ad and sales guy, preaches “metrics,” meaning that fewer reporters simply must write more stories.
It’s tough out there for newspeople, folks.
At the time of the layoffs, former Las Vegas blogger Steve Friess bashed Brown for not being more transparent, and for declining interviews with KNPR and himself. However, Friess also added that Brown was wasn’t nearly as culpable for the layoffs as his predecessor, outspoken conservative columnist Sherman Frederick.
“I would like our business to get to the point where we could hire everybody back," he says." My goal is to have more journalists on the street."
A big part of the paper’s future, Brown says, will be in new media—a large investment of both time and money, of which newspapers are often in short supply. Still, there have been steps forward. There’s currently an iPhone app for the R-J, and its tech team is working to build an iPad version of the daily paper.
Brown, not surprisingly, points to online news as a sector for growth.
"Our audience reach is tremendous when you factor in the Internet," he says. "It's yet another area of expansion for us."
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