The Las Vegas Sun died this week. The body is still quivering, but don’t let that fool you.
When management decided to drop many of its better journalists and creative minds, it finally appeared to be acknowledging what has been obvious for years: The Sun empire has been a multiheaded operation long on big ideas and short on business sense. You can’t dump that many really good reporters and expect to survive as a news product that amounts to much.
The cuts are devastating, and Editor Brian Greenspun didn’t help matters with his oddly unemotional column, but even after the Freddy Krueger treatment, the Sun still doesn’t have a business model that works without the artificial respiration provided by the Review-Journal. For all the success — including the Pulitzer Prize for public service — the Sun has been far more a grand journalism experiment in recent years than a daily newspaper.
From a management perspective, the Sun is like a favorite wild-haired uncle. He’s a great character and good storyteller, but every few months he has to sleep on your couch because he gambles away his money and lives beyond his means.
After years of overspending on unprofitable Web sites, transplanted reporters and editors, and weekly newspapers of questionable purpose, your uncle has about run out of couch time.
I could write at length about some of the talented, loyal people who are no longer employed there, but it makes my guts ache to think about. But I do think I know why they got rid of savvy gambling columnist Jeff Haney.
They didn’t want anyone printing the true odds of the Sun making a comeback.