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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   April 2000  issue

Betting on Vegas   

Tom Gorman likes the hand hes been dealt.

By Sean Mussenden

Tom Gorman likes the hand he's been dealt. The career Los Angeles Times bureauman feels "ecstatic" about heading up the paper's newest outpost in Las Vegas, but not because of the gambling.

"Craps confuse me. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count to 21, so I can't play blackjack, and slots is a sucker game," jokes Gorman, 48, now in his 27th year with the paper.

The real attraction? The food, the glitz and the wealth of good stories. He's quite pleased about "living in the buffet capital of the world. Where else can you work a beat with a huge volcano, huge lions and battling pirates?"

Expect the one-man bureau, which will operate under the paper's state desk, to open its doors in early May. And though the bureau might be housed near the cool neon of Vegas' famed strip, Gorman will cover all of Nevada--from Carson City in the west to Ely in the east to Las Vegas in the south.

Covering the Silver State is nothing new for the Times or Gorman. In the past, the paper consistently sent reporters there, and often Gorman got the nod.

While working out of the Times' San Diego and San Bernardino/Riverside bureaus, Gorman wrote dozens of Nevada stories about subjects ranging from Elvis auctions to anthrax scares. San Bernardino, a sprawling southwest California county, borders Clark County, Nevada--home to Las Vegas. While bureau chief in Riverside--a position he gave up for the new gig and the Times has yet to fill--Gorman routinely jumped across state lines to report.

"There are a wealth of stories to be mined, and there is a great Nevada spirit that I hope to define and explore," he says.

But why open a bureau? The Times wants to combat parachute journalism by sticking a reporter on the beat full time, Gorman says. Why now? To keep pace with Los Angeles' growing fascination with Las Vegas and Nevada.

"Many Californians are moving east to Las Vegas, including, now, me. There are incredible ties between Nevada and California," he says.

The Times' national edition circulates in Las Vegas. Gorman says an expansion of the daily metro edition circulation into Nevada would come as a surprise to him, and Times Metropolitan Editor Roxane Arnold says no plans are in the works.

Charles Zobell, managing editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal--the larger of the two Vegas dailies--discusses another sort of competition. "If [Gorman] were to break a big story here before we did? That would be embarrassing," he says.

On the other hand, Zobell believes having a seasoned Times reporter snooping around town will "prompt us to be on our toes."