The media history in Clark County

At one time in Nevada history Hank Greenspun's Las Vegas Sun was the best newspaper in the state.
By Rolando Larraz
Las Vegas Tribune

At one time in Nevada history Hank Greenspun’s Las Vegas Sun was the best newspaper in the state.

Those who were residents of Las Vegas in the decades of the ’80s and ’90s may remember the old Casino News and the Las Vegas Mirror newspapers published by one of the best publishers in Las Vegas, Ralph Petillo, whose newspapers were always effective to the advertisers with a circulation of 70,000 copies every week.
Las Vegas Review-Journal, the so-called largest and most powerful newspaper (according to them) only print 176,366 copies daily and 206, 000 on Sundays for a population of more than 2 million.
Las Vegas’s estimated population of 644,644 accounts for just the city proper. The Las Vegas metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million. When most people talk about Las Vegas, they refer to the city as well as areas beyond its city limits, especially the Las Vegas Strip (known for its resorts and casinos) or even the whole Las Vegas
Valley, according to internet information.
With these numbers in mind, it is safe to assume that “the most powerful and largest newspaper in the state” is only covering less than ten percent of the population and that is not counting the “returns” that are not sold in the stores and other outlets of distribution.
Coming to Las Vegas with the illusion of publishing a new newspaper printing 100,000 copies could be nothing more than a dream.
First, the unknown publication with a secret name will have to fight “the most powerful and largest newspaper in the state” that does not like competition.
If the daily newspaper could have the audacity of taking the small weekly newspaper, the Las Vegas Tribune, with its small circulation of 30,000 copies from the racks and throwing it in the trash, what would they not do to that new publication of an assuming 100,000 circulation?
Dreaming is not unethical or against the law, if they think that the daily, “the most powerful and largest newspaper in the state” is going to welcome another publication that they cannot control, they have a surprise coming, but that does not give them the right to insult any other existent publication offering to be an insert with their local news.
It is no secret that the editorial line of the Las Vegas Tribune is completely opposite of the Las Vegas Sun and its editor and legal owners, but when the Las Vegas Review-Journal tried to take over the Las Vegas Sun, this small weekly newspaper, the Las Vegas Tribune, with fewer Facebook friends than any other online newspaper, took the
side of Las Vegas Sun because that is what the Las Vegas Tribune is all about, fighting and defending everyone’s rights.
One thing is a wonder to many of the old timers in the area: why did the Las Vegas Sun accept being an insert within a newspaper that not many people read?
At one time the Las Vegas Sun was the best newspaper in Clark County; many people would not go to bed before reading the early morning edition of “Hank Greenspun’s newspaper”; in those days Las Vegas had three daily newspapers, two of them with two editions daily, serving the entire community.
The same can apply to Ralph Petillo, the late fiery tabloid publisher. Previously a racehorse owner and nightclub operator in New York City and Miami, Petillo began Las Vegas’s first weekly tabloid, the Panorama.
“He was a crusader for what we perceive is the underdog,” said Murray Rosner, an occasional columnist for the Casino News, during Petillo’s funeral. “Petillo would provide a forum for anyone who felt they had a statement to make about what is wrong with society.”
“Hank Greenspun’s defense of the late Federal Judge Harry Claiborne made history in Nevada and perhaps in America and that is what newspapers should be all about,” said Perly Viasmensky, Las Vegas Tribune’s general manager. Since he moved to Las Vegas in 1966, Petillo published entertainment tabloids on casinos, betting and
sports commentary, and adult entertainment. He later began the Las Vegas Mirror and the Casino News; the masthead of the first eight issues of the Las Vegas Mirror stated that the newspaper was published by Virginia Hill Enterprises, the owners of La Verdad Spanish Newspaper, the first Spanish Newspaper in Nevada, but later the owners sold the Las Vegas Mirror to Petillo for one dollar ($1.00) and they continued to be friends.
Ralph Petillo kept up a close friendship with the owners of this newspaper until his death, Maramis Choufani, the managing editor, was told, since all that happened before she joined the Tribune team, but she knows he is still remembered since he is spoken of often.
“Those suggesting this newspaper be an insert in someone else’s new newspaper have failed miserably to make that happen since this newspaper has been a fighter for freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty for all twenty two years of its existence. This ‘little’ weekly newspaper has been put to task several times yet the Las Vegas Tribune has always stood firm in its convictions and respect for this community,” concluded Choufani.
“Our mission is to open the eyes of our readers and let them known how tricky and decisive politicians, government officials and law enforcement can be, if we can do that with one reader every week, we are happy and we do not need 963,000 likes on Facebook that do not impact anyone’s mind,” said Viasmensky.

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