Rolling the Dice: Las Vegas Dailies to Merge In the Morning

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(AP) Nevada’s biggest evening newspaper, The Las Vegas Sun, has agreed to be folded into its much larger morning rival, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The unusual deal would make the Sun a 6-page to 10-page section within the larger paper seven days a weeks and allow it to maintain its liberal editorial voice.

Brian Greenspun, the Sun’s president and editor, told his paper’s 80-member staff about the publishing agreement at a meeting on Tuesday. He declined to say how many employees would lose their jobs but conceded some jobs would be lost.

“Las Vegas is going to be far better for this,” Greenspun said in a Review-Journal article Wednesday in which the papers jointly announced the deal. “You’ve got two very different voices, two newspapers who see the world differently, and the readers will be able to take advantage of that input and use it to make better decisions.”

Review-Journal publisher Sherman R. Frederick said the plan should help the Sun, where circulation has slipped to 28,000 subscribers from 42,000 subscribers since 2003.

“It became clear to us early on that an afternoon slot was tough to hold up,” Frederick said.

The plan still must be approved by the Justice Department because the two papers have a Joint Operating Agreement. As the long decline of afternoon newspapers turned many cities into one-newspaper towns, an exception to federal antitrust law was made to let competing newspapers share some business operations as a way to preserve their separate editorial voices.

The two papers adopted their operating agreement in 1990 after the Sun lost millions and was in “probable danger of financial failure,” according to the Justice Department.

It was not clear if the new publishing pact will end a fierce duel between the papers, with the scrappy Sun battling the editorially conservative Review-Journal for headlines, recognition and a voice in state politics.

The Review-Journal has a weekday circulation of nearly 165,000. It already publishes the Sun on Sunday in a combined paper.

Greenspun told staffers that the plan is to have the Review-Journal include a Sun section with several news pages and other content, including an editorial page, but not breaking news, which Review-Journal reporters will handle.

“When you have two newspapers in the same package, its redundant to have two stories about the same baseball game, two stories about the same County Commission meeting or two stories about the same unfortunate car accident,” he said in the Review-Journal article.

Greenspun added, however, that the Sun will continue to cover a variety of topics, particularly environmental issues.

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