Popular Las Vegas Web site Vegas Chatter has gone silent, leaving a void where once was news, insight and a vibrant online community.
The last day of operation for Vegas Chatter was July 31, 2015. The site, which operated under the umbrella of Conde Nast, was shut down after a shake-up within the massive media company that includes brands like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue.
The internal struggles at Conde Nast have had far-reaching effects, but the closure of Vegas Chatter is the only one we care about because, well, Las Vegas.
Vegas Chatter was the most popular Las Vegas Web site of its kind, with the most traffic, several times over. Yes, even more than we get, and we get a metric ass-ton.
It was more than a site, however. It was a community—vast, passionate and, you know, vital.
“Vital” isn’t a word we use lightly, either. The news on Vegas Chatter was essential reading for Las Vegas travelers. We also use the word because we’ve heard on many occasions readers considered Vegas Chatter and Vital Vegas complementary to each other, “sister sites” if you will. We’ve always taken that feedback as the highest of compliments.
The Vegas Chatter community existed not only on a Web site, but in other forums as well. Vegas Chatter has nearly 46,000 fans on Facebook, more than 20,000 followers on Twitter and more than 2,000 followers on Instagram.
That community was essential to Vegas Chatter’s success. Tipsters delivered gold each day, and the site’s contributing writers were often plucked from the community’s ranks.
The writers for the site were, for the most part, volunteers. They were given a small stipend of $15-20 for each published article, but it was clear the writers built Vegas Chatter into a powerhouse site because they were, and are, passionate about Las Vegas.
Vegas Chatter truly shined under the guiding hand of former editor Rebecca Frisch (pictured below). Frisch has since moved on to a new life in Snoqualmie, Washington, wherever the hell that might actually be.
Frisch turned the challenge of covering a travel destination into a game which she dominated, despite our best efforts.
Ours was a relationship of friendship as well as friendly competition. Being the first to share a story, or getting an exclusive, was a source of pride for each of us. It’s like that mountain man said in “Jeremiah Johnson.” He said, “a tribe’s greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.” Which doesn’t really apply since there were no enemies involved, but we loved that movie, and you get the point.
Vegas Chatter did have its detractors, though. If you do anything on the Internet, you have to attract haters. It’s the law. Frisch and her team always handled trolls with grace. You get to have an opinion about a thing when you can do it better, and few have or will.
We’ll always be in the debt of Rebecca Frisch and Vegas Chatter, for several reasons, but especially because the site showed frequent generosity by linking to our site, and others, to give credit where it was due. Less enlightened sites often don’t link out to other sites, under the false impression such outgoing links send visitors away. Frisch understood the importance of linking to sources and sent untold traffic our way. We tried to do the same in return, but it was always a lopsided relationship.
Specifically, since we launched our site in July of 2013, more than 29,000 visits to Vital Vegas have come through links on Vegas Chatter.
The shock of Frisch’s departure barely had time to sink in and now Vegas Chatter fans are dealing with another blow. Our daily ritual of checking the non-stop flow of news has suddenly turned into the sound of crickets. Crickets don’t know a damned thing about Las Vegas shows, hotels, restaurants and construction walls.
The one truth about Las Vegas, of course, is the only constant is change. We honestly never thought we’d be saying that about Vegas Chatter, but we are.
Vegas Chatter is being absorbed into another Web site, CNTraveler.com. The good folks at Conde Nast would like that to provide consolation, but it doesn’t, of course.
Brad Rickman, Digital Director at Conde Nast Traveler (CNT), said, “As CNT’s identity has evolved and our digital presence has grown and matured, it seems wisest to consolidate efforts and resources toward growing one travel business rather than four. We’ve expanded our digital editorial team and extended the network of contributors with whom we work.” In other words, the decision to shutter Vegas Chatter might be good business, but that doesn’t make it sting any less.
Rickman says that while no new content will be produced for Vegas Chatter, the site’s existing articles will continue to be accessible “in an archival state.” At the moment, the site is still live, with a notation across the top: “Archive only, fresh content at CNTraveler.com.”
Update (10/5/15): Vegas Chatter has been taken offline completely.
It’s worth noting this blog is definitely not going to be the one to point out how awkward the initialism “CNT” is.
Another friend of ours, Juliana Shallcross, was the Managing Editor of Vegas Chatter (and Hotel Chatter), and she commented, “We’ve had an amazing run and the good far outweighs the bad. We created a thriving community of Vegas visitors and Vegas locals that was unlike any other. I was lucky enough to work with some of the best people, both in and out of Vegas, who love this city with all their heart.”
So, now what? For those of us who have followed Vegas Chatter religiously for years, it’s time to seek out new Las Vegas resources. New sites and podcasts and Twitter feeds crop up all the time. They aren’t Vegas Chatter, but we’ll figure something out.
Of late, we’ve been flattered by an influx of readers asking if we’ll be taking up the mantle of Vegas Chatter, our “sister site.” Oh, hell, no, we reply. Just in terms of the sheer quantity of content, Vegas Chatter was in a class all by itself.
We love being a part of the Las Vegas conversation, of course, but our site is a hobby (we have a day job), a place to show off some photography and write some dopey jokes. Generating five or more stories a day, as Vegas Chatter did, is a lot of work. We prefer drinking and frequent naps.
We’d love to snatch up some of the Vegas Chatter writers to contribute to our site, but then it would have less us, and what’s the fun in that? We trust Vegas Chatter’s contributors will find an outlet for their passion. In fact, our friend Marc Meltzer already has with EdgeVegas.com.
Update: Another Las Vegas Web site has, in fact, snapped up several Vegas Chatter writers, and has taken its rightful place as a great source for Las Vegas news, VegasBright.com.
For now, we’re going to kick back and lift a glass of Captain and diet to Vegas Chatter.
Vegas Chatter’s motto was, “So bright you can see it from space.” The good news is that light can’t really be extinguished. Why? Because Vegas Chatter is us, the community of people obsessed with Las Vegas.
You might say Vegas Chatter was like a neon tube. News and opinions were the argon and xenon gas inside. We, all of us, are the electrical current that makes the neon glow. The more we share, the more useful information we impart to others, the more we contribute to the collective magic of Las Vegas, the brighter the light shines!
Which, we realize, is a horrible, horrible metaphor. What, you thought we were going to write an homage to Vegas Chatter sober?