News-3 touts 'Nevada Information Network' attempts to build strong presence

ONE is out, NIN is in.

Comparatively, Las Vegas ONE and "Nevada's Information Network" hardly seem like apples and apples. Or even apples and oranges.

One-time all-news cable channel vs. local affiliate news? Apples and turnips. Yet News-3 invites the comparison.

Labeling yourself the headquarters of a "network"? That's a big word, suggesting a service -- as did LV1 as a cable news provider -- of bulked-up coverage beyond average news.

Will it be? Or will it amount to empty, windbag marketing -- just as LV1 seemed to promise it would eventually ramp up a substantial original news presence and wound up largely regurgitating Channel 8 news?

LV1's death in December -- autopsied elsewhere in today's Neon Thursday -- was long-expected, its withered carcass finally removed from life support, passing away just as NIN was birthed.

Anchored by flagship News-3, NIN is a resource-sharing project of stories and footage among all three of Sunbelt Communications' Nevada stations in Vegas, Elko and Reno. "The idea is the state is getting smaller and it affects all of us in Nevada -- we're all faced with state government cutting services and we're getting closer together because of water issues," says news chief Bob Stoldal, who coordinates the three-pronged efforts and cites the wider ability to corral political figures.

"When (Lt. Gov. Brian) Krolicki arrived from Washington, D.C., in Reno, we met him at the airport so we could get it on the newscast that night. It's that kind of sharing. We're getting stories from Reno on Olympic athletes training in the northern part of the state."

Resources from multiple sources, Stoldal says, especially boost News-3's legislative coverage, supplementing planned excursions for coverage by reporter Steve Crupi and interviewer/analyst Jon Ralston.

"You're really going to see the Nevada Information Network impact during the special session of the Legislature," Stoldal says, "because a Southern Nevada station should be there the entire session."

Therein rests the irony of what NIN could accomplish: depth and breadth of local, county and state coverage in around six hours of daily newscasts that LV1 couldn't manage in 24.

Once LV1's top exec, Stoldal, along with News-3 owner Jim Rogers, rummaged through the detritus of LV1 and plucked out its abandoned linchpins, Jeff Gillan, Dana Gentry and Ralston (the latter an asset even if his show's 4 p.m. weekday slot is an ill-fitting, hopefully temporary condition). Combined with expanded resources, they're attempting to construct at News-3 a kind of miniversion of what LV1 could've become had it not dwindled to an afterthought channel -- small-staffed, neglected and bereft of reportorial bench strength.

"(Viewers) have to see it night after night and know that it has value to them," Stoldal acknowledges. "The idea is to drop slogans and just do it."

Evidence doesn't yet exist to prove this new news initiative has elevated News-3 coverage above its competitors.

However, it's worth tracking.

Plus an intriguing question -- could the lost soul of a dead cable channel find redemption in the body of a broadcast station? -- can be asked of NIN as we say RIP to LV1.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ or 702-383-0256.