Halloween in Las Vegas is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be — both the relative normalcy of the haunted holiday for the locals who live here and the overkill craziness that happens on the Strip.
Sarah Feldberg helped lead our team’s coverage of the edgier parts of the haunted holiday in Sin City.
She is our team’s editor for lasvegasweekly.com — Greenspun Interactive’s entertainment site for Las Vegas and the web companion to the Las Vegas Weekly print edition. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Sarah dating back to our team’s time in Naples and she’s easily one of the most talented and multifaceted journalists I’ve ever seen.
Sarah has serious skills. However, as I’ve said a million times: “Skillset is important. But mindset is most important.”
That’s where Sarah becomes so invaluable because she does all that she accomplishes with a positive-force attitude that makes a manager/editor count his/her blessings to have this type of journalist in such an important role. Her formal training may be text-based journalism, but her day-to-day reality is serving our audience in a multimedia, multi-platform world.
She writes for print for the both the Las Vegas Sun newspaper and the Las Vegas Weekly magazine. She blogs nearly everyday. She helps keep our exhaustive guides and calendars and other databases updated. She shoots photos for her stories. She shoots party pics at the clubs for the Weekly’s website. She appears on a local Fox television show nearly every week to talk about things on our site and in our magazine. She helps with our own video. She manages and maintains large evergreen projects.
I’m positive that over the next several weeks, I’m going to be showcasing lots and lots of Sarah’s work, but today I want to show how she handled our Halloween coverage.
Like a lot of new-media editors who work for mainstream media companies, Sarah has to balance several issues related to taking our traditional media brands online in a way that makes sense and making sure that we build websites that work the way websites are expected to work and not just as digital archives of print products.
And though the Las Vegas Weekly print edition and the lasvegasweekly.com website share the same name and lots of the same DNA, there are substantial differences to them — many of which are tied simply to the differences in distribution.
(I plan on really going into all of this in an upcoming blog post because there has probably never been a site that our team has worked on that has been thought about and discussed and tested and benchmarked as much as lasvegasweekly.com.)
So, for the sake of this blog, let’s start the look at our edgier Halloween coverage by beginning with the print edition of Las Vegas Weekly.
We had known for weeks (if not months), that Las Vegas Weekly was planning a “death” issue. At that point, Sarah had already begun working with the print edition’s great editor, Scott Dickensheets. We then brainstormed on what pieces our team could add to that week’s content and we came up with a “death map” — basically a look at some of most interesting deaths and murders in Las Vegas. We also lobbied that the death issue be the week of Halloween so it could play into our site’s holiday coverage.
The death map ran in print, as well, but it was really thought of mainly as an online project. The objective was to map out the most interesting deaths in the area, then tie those to a short overview and then lots of stories from our news organizations’ archives.
The map’s look was designed by the print edition’s art director, Ryan Olbrysh. The deaths on the map (as well as their little accompanying brief overviews) were written and selected by Las Vegas Weekly print managing editor Ken Miller. The archival stories were found by online editor Sarah Feldberg and the Flash map’s guts were built by Greenspun Interactive’s Tyson Anderson.
Now, let’s take a look at the online-only Halloween content that lived on the Weekly’s site.
It started with an amazing guide to basically all of the adult things going on in Vegas. One of the things that we really try to pride ourselves on is building really great calendar and guide information on our sites, and our calendar editor — Allison Duck — is absolutely fantastic at it.
When you pull together all of those event listings from the relational databases that make up our sites — along with the great restaurant and club guides, etc… — and mash it all together in narrative format, what you get is Allison’s incredibly practical “Las Vegas Halloween Guide.”
Next up, Sarah and one of our news organization’s very talented videographers, Katie Euphrat, teamed up to tell a story of a local design school’s Halloween costume design and runway show. Sarah wrote the story and shot the photos, while Katie handled all of the video responsibilities.
An interesting sidenote to this is that last year, Sarah worked on an amazing project where we documented how two Cirque du Soleil costume designers would build a Halloween costume with about $50 worth of materials. The story’s accompanying photos — which actually show Sarah in the finished costume — and video are really cool.
Our team is blessed to have a really phenomenal nightlife writer, Deanna Rilling. She’s super talented, really knows her subject matter and is one of the hardest working folks you’ll ever be around.
One of her contributions to our Halloween coverage was really cool — the folks who produce the hugely elaborate “Perfecto” dance night at Rain nightclub in the Palms made her up as a character from Perfecto.
The results were really, really cool. Deanna wrote a behind-the-scenes story about it. And Greenspun Interactive visual journalist Justin Bowen documented it with an interesting timelapse video of Deanna’s transformation and photo gallery of it all.
One of the more interesting Halloween happenings in Las Vegas each year is the Fetish & Fantasy Ball. One of the newest members of our team — and recent UNLV grad — April Corbin blogged about it and took party pics of the attendees.
(I don’t really remember anything like this happening in Kansas during my life there. Though I once went to a Scissor Sisters concert with Betsy at the Granada back in Lawrence that definitely had at least some elements of this.)
Of course, we picked our winners for best costumes.
And there were other parts of our coverage.
Lastly, there was our team’s old Halloween standby: What our local celebrities were handing out to trick-or-treaters — which we’ve been writing since about 1998.
When you pull all of this together, you get a good picture of how a print-based brand can feel pretty dang webby. Some of the content in our Halloween coverage was a little flashy — literally Flash and some video — but other parts were nothing more than an appreciation and knowledge of what kind of content just works well on the web.
That’s where a dynamic online editor like Sarah Feldberg becomes invaluable.
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