Articles by Steven D. Stern

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Increases

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in October, increased further in November. The Index now stands at 54.1, up from 49.9 in October. The Present Situation Index rose to 24.0 from 23.5. The Expectations Index increased to 74.2 from 67.5 last month.

Consumers’ assessment of current-day conditions was virtually unchanged from October. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 43.6 percent from 42.3 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “good” edged down to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market, however, was more positive than last month. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased to 4.0 percent from 3.5 percent, while those stating jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 46.5 percent from 46.3 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Las Vegas Sun: Las Vegas economy among worst in the world, report says

Revieing on a Brookings Institution study, The Las Vegas Sun reports that “Las Vegas’ economic performance is fourth from the bottom in newly released world rankings and the prospects for a rapid recovery are dim with its dependence on domestic tourism and construction, according to the author of a report released this week.

“Before the recession, in measurements analyzing 1993 through 2007, Las Vegas ranked No. 14 in the world among 150 metropolitan areas studied by the Brookings Institution and London School of Economics.

“Las Vegas fell to 128th in the rankings during the recession in 2008 and 2009, and since the recovery has begun, its ranking has fallen to 146th. That’s better than only Dublin, Ireland (150); Dubai (149); Barcelona, Spain (148); and Thessaloniki, Greece (147).” Click here to read the full story in The Las Vegas Sun. Click here for the full Brookings study.

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices: Broad-based Declines in Home Prices in the 3rd Quarter of 2010

According to data released today by Standard & Poor’s in its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices U.S. National Home Price Index declined 2.0 percent in the third quarter of 2010, after having risen 4.7 percent in the second quarter. Nationally, home prices are 1.5% below their year-earlier levels. In September, 18 of the 20 MSAs covered by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and both monthly composites were down; and only the two composites and five MSAs showed year-over-year gains. While housing prices are still above their spring 2009 lows, the end of the tax incentives and still active foreclosures appear to be weighing down the market. Click here for the full report.

A Letter To Bob Brown, Publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Mr. Brown:

At the outset and in the interest of full disclosure, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that I was remarkably pleased to see the management changes at The Las Vegas Review-Journal. While I have no idea of the editorial direction you might take the newspaper, I would hope that from whatever side of the aisle you, and your editorial team see the world you communicate it on the “high road” and with reasonable moderation that was so lacking in the recent past.

In my view, the staff at the Review-Journal comprises many fine reporters and I believe news of the community and the state should be the keystone of the newspaper, a marker that this year seems to have been shifted to the editorial page. Over the years I have helped many RJ reporters with stories and solid story ideas, most quite frankly, did not involve my clients. I will certainly continue to do so, as many of them are my friends on a personal level.

I wish you and your staff nothing but the best in restoring the reputation of The Las Vegas Review-Journal to its former level. I knew the high quality of the paper as early as the early 1970s, when I was in the newspaper business in Washington, DC and friendly with an RJ reporter posted there.

A good newspaper provides an invaluable service to the community, but I’m sure you know that, as well as the very challenging road that lies ahead for you, as well as just about all in the industry. With good news judgment, solid reporting and transparency, I am sure you will succeed.

That said, and while this may seem a bit arrogant, I pass along the following suggestions to you that may help the RJ meet those challenges:

  • Clearly a strong Internet presence is necessary in our current environment. I think the redesign of the RJ’s  website was a great step in that direction. I would hope that the newspaper would expend more resources to the Internet to maintain and increase its currency of news.
  •  The front page of the print edition is frequently devoid of local news and virtually everything on it readers have generally seen on the Internet the night before. Compelling local news on Page One would be a great step forward.
  • I see the Business Section as the most important in the paper, following Page One. Considering the number of small to medium size businesses here in town, it seems to me that a creative, innovative reporter should be able to file daily stories either about these business, or trends of these businesses, especially given the resources of that section, e.g. There seems to be a trend in my neighborhood: Over the past year, no fewer than a half dozen independent quasi-fast food restaurants have opened in a two mile stretch of Lake Mead Boulevard and all seem to be thriving.
  • Trust your reporters and their sources on controversial stories. Well, to quote President Reagan, “…trust but verify.” I know at least two stories that were spiked over the past few years because of the possibility of either libel suits or other controversy. I don’t think a newspaper can afford to be reticent on stories that might impact the community because of the “possibility of litigation.”
  • Finally, the announcement of your new position was a “one-day story,” that drew enormous response, as I’m sure you know. I think it’s not only important, but critical to tell the community the direction in which you’re taking the newspaper, whether you’re going to “stay the course,” or effect editorial/reporting change and to ensure that the public knows that there will be a “Chinese Wall” separating the Editorial Page from the News.

Las Vegas Sun: Righthaven defends copyright suit against Oregon nonprofit

The Las Vegas Sun reported today that: “As ordered by a federal judge, Las Vegas copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC offered arguments Monday as to why one of its newspaper copyright infringement lawsuits should not be dismissed on fair use grounds.

“In a surprise move this month, U.S. District Judge James Mahan ordered Righthaven to show cause why its copyright infringement lawsuit against the Center for Intercultural Organizing of Portland, Ore., and an official there should not be dismissed on fair use grounds.

“Mahan’s order was unexpected since attorneys for the defendants had not raised the fair use issue in their defense, instead focusing on jurisdictional grounds.” Click here to read the full story in The Las Vegas Sun.

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