Rob Curley and Chris Jennewein of Greenspun Interactive gave a lively presentation this morning at the Marketplaces conference representing the yin and yang of product features and business models. This is often in a state of imbalance at online newspaper entities.
Greenspun runs the Las Vegas Sun and a number of other properties, including a handful of business and alternative weeklies. At Lasvegassun.com Curley is executive editor, executing an ambitious online strategy for Greenspun Senior VP Jennewein to oversee. The site recently received Best Online Newspaper honors from Editor & Publisher.
The unique positioning of the site has allowed it to pursue lots of new directions with online feature sets, pictures and video, according to Jennewein. This positioning is mostly a result of having been spun out of the parent newspaper brand as a separate entity.
“We have no core print business to support and defend, which is something that has hurt a fair share of businesses,” said Jennewein. “We didn’t have to worry about that and can truly think of everything we do in online first.”
This includes an all-online staff of 45 journalists videographers and software developers and a 20-person business staff. The results in the year the site has been in operation is a laundry list of tech-centric products and features, including an interactive map of the Las Vegas strip that lets you see graphical representations of how it looked every year.
Links are embedded throughout, giving a virtual history lesson through Las Vegas Sun articles. You can see the article from the day that Caesars Palace opened in 1960, or Sen. McCarran’s obituary or the day that Elvis and Priscilla got married. This required rather intensive and ongoing data and programming challenges, according to Curley.
“Everything is geocoded. Every photo every video every story, every everything,” he says. “For example, we called every restaurant in Vegas and got 63 data points from them.”
This will be the basis for lots of other products such as maps that show all of the crimes that have happened in your ZIP code, what movies are showing, restaurants are open and other business attributes. For the strip, this will come together as a massive relational database that runs a casino guide with a matrix of information on open rooms, performances, articles, videos, photos, table bookings, etc.
Curley is also a big proponent of the open standards that have led to the widgetization of lots of online media — allowing for additional distribution and touch points with this content. This includes, among many things in development, widgets and feeds for iGoogle and My Yahoo, as well as daily videos for local news and events hosted by those, according to Curley, that “won the genetic lottery.”
“You can’t just be on the Internet,” said Curley. “You have to be of the Internet.”