Last spring, the state of the Las Vegas real estate market propelled Norman Bell and his wife, Lisa, to purchase a home in Summerlin, and he couldn’t have anticipated that more than a year later he would become editor of the Las Vegas Business Press.
“This fell in my lap,” he said of the opportunity to work at the Business Press.
Bell is no newbie. Last September, he and his wife started VegasBureau.com, a website that covers news and conventions in the Las Vegas area for out-of-town publications.
“The premise is the flipside of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ We don’t believe that,” Bell said. “There’s a lot of media outside of Vegas that don’t have the resources to send people here for conventions or for the news, so when news breaks we cover it and send it back to them at a reasonable price.”
Prior to starting the website, Bell was editor of the Hartford Business Journal for three years, where he rebuilt the struggling publication, doubled website traffic and replaced an outdated content management system.
Aside from the various positions he’s held in places including Albuquerque, N.M.; Tacoma, Wash.; Riverside, Calif.; and Trenton, N.J., Bell also has received numerous awards and honors. He was a Pulitzer finalist for a story on euthanasia ahead of a Washington state referendum.
“We went to Holland and a lot of places to look at the issue,” he said. “I think we knew we were doing Pulitzer-caliber work on that project. As it turned out we came in second, which is good, but it’s no brass ring.”
Though Bell said business itself hasn’t changed in the past 10 years he has been working for business publications, the business of media itself has changed.
“There was a time when daily newspapers were the only source of news for your community, and there was a time when there were only three television networks, and when something happened, everyone would talk about it the next day,” he said. “Now with the joys of the Internet, there are a lot of ways to get information so there’s a different kind of competition. It requires us to be more agile and customer friendly.”
Although Bell just began his role as editor of the Business Press, he already has big plans for the magazine.
“It’s an issue of focus; we need to do more with real estate construction, the business-to-business aspect and develop the expertise to be credible in the market so we know what we’re talking about,” he said. “A lot of what a business publication does is create connections, and we need to become laser-focused on business-to-business niche. Maybe we’ll get a little bit smaller before we get bigger, but we need to make sure we’re talking to the people that we want to be serving. The message is bear with us.”
He begins his new duties Aug. 18.