Bragging rights and budgetary bugging

Expanded from the 6-29-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 7-3-2003 Comstock Chronicle

For a sweet 24 hours earlier this month, had a larger circulation than most Nevada newspapers.

I occasionally check web traffic reports and was shocked when I saw this huge upspike which tripled the best numbers I've ever generated since Gold Hill Publishing's NevadaWeb started uploading this column seven years ago. At first, I first thought someone had hacked me.

Comparing print circulation against web traffic represents an inexact science at best. No paper knows exactly how many eyeballs read any print edition. The industry rule of thumb is 2.1 readers per copy.

On the web, the purest measure is the number of different servers which have looked you up. A thousand readers visiting from computers using Microsoft Network (MSN) would count as only one. The broader number of "hits" is even more fuzzy, as it reflects the number of files downloaded. One web page can have many files within it between text, photos and graphics.

I like to use the lower figure, which counts each web server only once. It's the equivalent of what the radio industry calls "exclusive cumes," shorthand for the total number of different listeners in a week with each counted only once no matter how often he or she tunes in during that time. It's a good indication of a station's overall popularity and audience strength.

Largely based on Tuesday and into Wednesday, June 17 and 18, was visited by readers from well over 11,000 different web servers. Again, remember that each server could provide access to multiple users, such as As far as number of hits, try 53,000. Bits and bytes were in the multiple millions. Assuming that the site equaled a newspaper with a print run of about 12,000, would have ranked about 13th among the 40 or so Silver State daily and weekly papers. This was mostly for one page containing two pictures, few graphics and mostly text.

All the interest was generated by the Barbwire of 8 October 2000 entitled "The true face of Nevada gambling." It tells the story (with pictures) of bartender Darlene Jespersen's legal action against Harrah's-Reno for firing her for the sin of refusing to wear makeup. Over time, I've added a lot of links to other publications and TV programs using Jespersen's story, including CNN, CBS This Morning and Oprah Winfrey's website. I also linked the news of Jespersen's receipt of Mother Jones Magazine's "Hellraiser" award, a nomination and article by Nevada author Jon Christensen.

Because of all that interest and followups over the years, I have received queries and republication requests from as far away as French-language magazines and newspapers in Quebec to an Argentine union and U.K. media. (Now that Harrah's is applying for casino licensing in Great Britain, this should have new immediacy.)

Recent web traffic shows action from all over the globe, including media, governments and casino companies.
All of the recent noise started with the June 16 Sparks Tribune front page story by Rachel Baez which broke the news of Jespersen's appeal of U.S. District Judge Ed Reed's dismissal of her civil rights case.

A few years ago, Harrah's implemented a chainwide "Personal Best" appearance code. It required employees in contact with the public, especially females, to be photographed after a professional makeover and to look that way forever. Aging was not an option. Jespersen's photos, taken with almost no makeup, reveal she needs none. Which didn't count for anything with the corporate cookie cutter mentality which was first established by Bill Harrah hisself.

Back in the 1970s, I walked out of a Harrah's restaurant rather than be subjected to his double standard. Harrah wanted his casino treated like a church. Ladies could wear hats but men could not. Imagine that in a cowtown like Reno, especially during rodeo week.

Even then, Harrah's imposed a personal appearance policy which discriminated against those not young and sexy in appearance. I remember one executive forced to starve himself because he knew that no matter how good he was at his job, he was in constant jeopardy of dismissal because he was not skinny. And this guy was basically an accountant!

The Reno Gazette-Journal published a grotesquely morally obtuse editorial in support of Harrah's. Judge it for yourself, but it basically said that Nevada is selling whorehouse fantasy and the likes of Jespersen should get with the program or get out.

"The trappings are all part of the illusion. And it's based on expectations formed by gender stereotypes," the RGJ editorial board opined. (Memo to ass pinchers: the RGJ looks like an accommodating work environment.)

For many years, the Reno paper's former publisher sat on Harrah's board of directors, making over $50,000 a year therefrom, for which the Gannett-Journal was excoriated by journalism ethics watchers nationwide. Sue Clark-Johnson may be gone to Arizona, but the hangover from her binge remains.

I remain amazed by the staying power of the story of Darlene Jespersen's courageous fight to be treated as an individual rather than as a disposable worker.

BUDGETARY BELLY LAUGHS. Last Wednesday, pro- and anti-tax demonstrations were held in front of the Carson City legislative building. One of the mass-produced signs from the taxophobes ordered Gov. Dudley Do-Right to re-open the already-passed "buget" for a new round of gut cuts.

Maybe "buget" is French for budget and right-wing nuts know that hating anything French sells.

T'ROW DA BUMS OUT DEPT. Has anyone given any thought to the idea that if lawmakers fail in their constitutional duty to balance the "buget" by this Tuesday, a case may be made to remove all 63 lawmakers and the lieutenant governor for non-feasance? Or perhaps just those voting to shut down state government and schools?

The possibilities, like the legislative fistfights, seem endless.

Swing your buget and doseydoe.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors

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Copyright © 1982-2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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