The media are kind of like women. Can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em.
I’ve spent a good portion of my career trying to educate members of the mainstream media on the realities of gaming. Granted, I’m biased toward our industry, but there are so many anti-gaming “experts” out there, I believe I must try to balance out the shrill negative naysayers with a positive, progressive message.
But obviously, I can’t do everything, and most stories get written without my input and therefore become “hatchet jobs.”
One such article was a cover story in Time magazine last month, “Fabulous Less Vegas.” The author, Joel Stein, confesses with embarrassment that he’s come to love the city over the past 10 years, and even penned a paean-read “puff piece”-to Vegas five years ago as a cover story for the same magazine.
This time, however, Stein seems to be rejoicing in the Vegas troubles. He celebrates the fall from grace of the huge casinos on the Strip and even seems to gloat that small homeowners in the city are being hit with the same punishment for the same crimes. He finds a convenient speculator upon which he pins the sins of the entire city.
And then, of course, Stein is puzzled by the fact that the optimism that made Las Vegas great didn’t disappear. He actually makes a bet with Steve Wynn against the city’s recovery. Shows exactly how much he truly “loves” Las Vegas.
Now, I saw the way Time magazine works back in the early 1990s when it sent a team of reporters to Atlantic City to document the “slums in the shadows of casino palaces” story that was, even at that time, an image of the past. But they could not be dissuaded by the truth, and sure enough, the cover photo showed a homeless man sleeping under a lifeguard boat in the very shadow of a casino. Great image, just not very accurate.
If Stein were just one of the “drive-by” journalists who pop in to make judgments about the town and the gaming industry as a whole, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it seems the mainstream media is feasting on Las Vegas these days.
No, the elite media is taking pleasure in the difficulties of the gaming industry in general, and Las Vegas in particular. For example: Chicago Sun Times writer Neil Steinberg parachutes into Vegas (at the request of his son on a family vacation) to do a piece he so cleverly calls “What Happens in Vegas: Little Good.” He’s in town for less than 24 hours and manages to complain about his hotel (Excalibur), timeshare shills, and even-horror of horrors-gambling itself!
It’s often amazing to me that these kinds of pieces get written without as much as a call to the hotel or seemingly any editorial oversight whatsoever.
But the newspapers and magazines certainly aren’t alone. There have been numerous stories on radio and television that tread the same ground claimed by the “parachute” journalists.
And it doesn’t just happen in the U.S., either. The joy with which journalists are reporting the travails in Macau is undeniable. Stanley Ho’s illness last month was quickly followed up by speculation about who would succeed him, as if it were a foregone conclusion that he would die. And barbs directed at Australian Jamie Packer and his ill-fated gaming investments have that same air of retaliation and celebration.
No, I don’t have much hope that this will change anytime soon. This feeding frenzy and obvious glee at the misfortunes of the gaming industry will continue. And in the long run, it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that we provide the best service and continue to offer first-class facilities for our customers, our employees and our shareholders. Because, in the end, that’s the heart and soul of gaming, not some silly journalist who thinks he’s being witty and “original” by describing how “sad” he is that the casinos are hurting. Our revenge will be returning to prosperity and offering quality experiences to all who cross our thresholds.